Burcham says several potential customers have indicated that a single-finger scanner would be sufficient for their needs—so AOS plans to sell both a single-finger device and a more expensive five-finger device. “We’re looking at having product ready for market at the beginning of the third quarter this year,” says Burcham.
The military has a growing interest in biometric sensors that operate at a distance. The U.S. Department of Defense awarded $1.5 million to Carnegie Mellon’s CyLab Biometrics Lab to support development of technology that performs iris detection at 13 meters.
One potential customer for the AIRprint is the Marine Corps. Jeremy Powell, head of identity operations at Marine Corp Headquarters, saw a demonstration of it about a year ago. Currently, individuals entering a military installation must place their fingers on a scanner, with a Marine standing beside them to help ensure a viable print. Powell would prefer there to be a safe distance between the Marine and the person being scanned. The AIRprint device could be on a tripod and connected to a cable that runs behind a blast wall, where the Marine could safely assess the fingerprint result, he says.
AIRprint’s two-meter standoff distance represents more than a technical advancement. “It is a step closer to being able to verify an individual’s identity from a safe distance with or without their knowledge. As with all new technology, the hope is further advancements will follow and increase the standoff distance,” says Powell. “This could potentially allow Marines to positively identify a target before engaging or conduct ‘standoff’ screenings from the safety of an armored vehicle.”
Over the past nine years, the Marines have made increasing use of biometrics to distinguish friend from foe in Iraq and Afghanistan. Says Powell, “It’s actually been very successful so far, and technologies like AIRprint have the potential to make it even more so.”