A camera and algorithm know it’s you.
With airports tightening up security, biometric technologies such as face recognition may come on line. A few techniques exist to match known facial profiles against those of strangers in a crowd or to verify a person’s claimed identity, as at an ATM. But two stand out: local feature analysis, developed by Joseph Atick, who founded Jersey City, NJ-based Visionics; and eigenface, first demonstrated at Helsinki University of Technology, later developed at MIT, and currently marketed by Viisage Technology of Littleton, MA.
Like feature analysis, the eigenface method also reduces a face to a number. But instead of looking at a collection of facial features locally, it examines the face as a whole. First it averages out a database of head shots to produce one composite face. Then it compares the face being identified to the composite. An algorithm measures how much the target face differs from the composite and generates a 128-digit personal identification number based on the deviation. Both systems offer security at the expense of constant surveillance. Whether society is willing to pay that cost is yet to be determined.
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