In a time when security initiatives are at the forefront of corporate, civil and government agendas, IT resellers have many new opportunities. Today, security is in demand and critical to protecting large segments of the population. Performing recognition at record sub-second speed, 3D facial biometrics stands out as a most important development. 3D facial biometrics equips resellers with the foremost innovation in security and the speed necessary to be distinguished from the competition.
Corporations, airports, transit authorities, and governments recognize the value of identifying individuals at primary points of entry and at access points vulnerable to security breach. In fact, a growing number are under mandate to incorporate biometric security.
Biometric technologies identify subjects on the basis of unique physical characteristics that when combined with other security factors notably increase entry point protection, secure sensitive assets and reduce outside threats. Security authorities and business directors commonly turn to system integrators and dealers to provide effective, multifactor authentication systems that can integrate easily with existing hardware and software, such as card or PIN access systems. Resellers will want to understand the newest developments in biometrics and be equipped with the right products and technology solutions to achieve new security in access control.
Among many mandates to employ biometrics, the International Civil Aviation Organizations (ICAO) mandates only facial biometrics. Resellers of biometrics should be aware of 3D facial recognition processes for enrolment, identification, verification and database tracking and reporting to maximize sales opportunities and optimize security requirements. Many security scenarios are poised to change from human interfaces, which rely on checking documents and identification manually, to automated systems. The most advanced automated security systems are based on biometrics and can combine multiple biometric factors -- face, finger, iris -- with card and/or PIN access.
Recent innovations render 3D facial recognition as the most advanced biometric option. Heretofore, more accuracy in biometrics security required more user cooperation and time too excessive to achieve acceptable throughput rates. Examples include users having to place a finger on scanners or stepping into close range of iris cameras. These examples raise objections not only to time spent, but also issues of health risk and invasion of personal space. 3D facial technology uniquely combines high accuracy with minimal user participation usually only a glance at a reader. Now, one company, A4Vision, has achieved sub-second processing speeds, making 3D facial biometrics the fastest among all biometric scans.
3D Facial Recognition -- How it Works
The most advanced 3D technology is based on a structured light method working in the invisible near-infrared range. Structured lighting technology consists of projecting a pattern (a light grid) onto a persons face. As the person steps into device range, the light is distorted by the individuals facial geometry. These distortions actually create 3D facial templates, which are precisely defined and unique to a scanned individual, providing facial measurements and data points that inherently distinguish individuals with similar characteristics, including identical twins, when the threshold is set to an appropriate false accept rate. (See image 1). Software processes the raw data and performs image filtering, instantly reconstructing the 3D surface, smoothing and interpolating data to avoid holes and optimize an image (See image 2). Initial collection takes between three to five seconds to complete, and it is non-invasive.
Through a proprietary matching engine and algorithms, the system performs subject identification (1 to many) and verification (1 to 1 comparison). In verification mode the extracted biometric image is compared against a template stored on a chip, or against a template called up from a database activated only by a users card or pin number. In identification mode, the system compares the extracted biometric template in real time against all templates stored in a local or network database. Either mode ensures user privacy and control of data, in that the image itself is not stored, and thereby is not accessible except at the users option.
The same 3D facial recognition security system comprises several components: the Enrolment Station, the Face Reader, and several software packages. The Enrolment Station is used to initially capture biometric facial features, which are processed and turned into a template. Face Readers are used at point-of-access locations and perform the matching operation between a stored template and the person presenting their face to a reader. The SDK is used to build new applications while the 3D Integration Module allows for quick easy integration into existing systems.
The enrolment process employs a specific 3D image-capturing device (See Figure 1 - ES) to create the unique 3D face of 40,000 points measured to sub-millimeter precision as seen in image 1. Users will expect the enrolment process to take no longer than 6-8 seconds. Resellers will want to be aware of prevailing expectations when considering a 3D facial biometric offering. Fastest processing capability is always an advantage. Identity verification requires a checkpoint device at which a subject glances in order for the technology to compare the live image with a template stored either on a smart card chip or in a central database. (See Figure 2 FR) In most applications the identification/verification process is expected not to exceed 2 seconds, and sub-second processing is most desirable; only 3D facial accomplishes sub-second processing.
Resellers will want to ensure that any 3D facial biometrics systems considered can be easily added to existing physical access networks or provide a unique model for physical access security based on 3D biometrics combining with other factors. Resellers will want to be able be equipped with complete biometric network solutions for companies, large or small, to easily upgrade security with biometric access and company-wide management controls. A4Visions network products, Vision 3DI and Vision Access provide options for either integrating with existing card access systems, or deploying a biometric based security model, which can integrate and mange multiple security factors with facial recognition for physical access control.
Following are some general examples of how 3D facial recognition can integrate into high-level security systems.
Bank, corporate, or government facility access control
ABC is a large bank, seeking to protect data and financial assets against infiltration from outside & deter or prevent employee theft. Employees gain access to the building and various areas using contactless cards with verification numbers that identify individuals, making entry hands-free and fast, as these cards are in pockets, satchels and purses. Performing 3D recognition at the same time employee cards are read and verified assures that the card holder is the authorized party. Cards and 3D recognition also verifies employees for time & attendance records, ideal for flexible working hours. Employees at the bank are enrolled with variable access levels and permissions. Job function, time of day, and escort requirements are factors. Access verification levels range to address parameters for entry to the main building, facilities support areas, data centre, vault, and directors floor. For example, cleaning staff is allowed access only between 7-9am daily, and only directors may enter the facility after 11 pm. Some zones or access areas require escorted entry, such as the vault. 3D facial verification ensures that a card holder is authorized for the access level intended per individual, preventing card sharing or swapping. To back up the 3D verification system, Face Reader cameras take a 2D audit image, to corroborate that employees are present at said times, in case of primary system rejection. 2D photo images also offer evidence, in case of theft or unauthorized, attempted entries, to provide to police for watchlists & investigations. ABC bank is a scenario that could be replicated for any government agency or corporate offices.
Mass transit security
Metro station 1 accommodates tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of individuals daily. Processing speed is most critical in order to assure that individuals are not delayed in traveling anywhere, or that the station becomes crowded by delays. Sub-second processing speeds achieved by 3D facial recognition result in a throughput of up to 1,000 per hour, provided the individuals are pre-enrolled. Multiple readers multiply capacities at the stations five entry points, enhancing throughput at the station. Enrolment, like any licensing or certification process takes longer; for A4Vision's 3D facial biometrics stations, the enrolment process is from 6-8 seconds per individual. The Mass Transit Authority has elected to combine the enrolment process with the issuance of a travel pass for each individual. The pass is not only a mechanism for identification and entry, it is also a debit card, which must be replenished daily, weekly, or monthly. The debit system automatically ensures that the cards data are kept current. In the enrolment process specific information about each traveler is gathered and associated with the card, a smart card. Cards are swiped upon entry to the transit area with a 3D face reader at the same access point ensuring that the holder of a card is, in fact, the enrolled individual. Before boarding a train and again upon exiting a station, users are required to swipe cards again, ensuring point-to-point security identification. The sub-second speeds provided by 3D facial scans enable a smooth yet highly secure process.
The value of 3D facial biometric recognition
3D Facial recognition provides a valuable enhancement to physical access control installations. Systems previously based only on card or PIN access exponentially expand security by incorporating 3D facial recognition. Resellers with 3D facial biometrics can offer a solution that is both non-invasive and highly accurate. Traditional access control systems rely on readers and cards that can be stolen, lost, shared or copied. 3D facial recognition relies on data point characteristics of a persons face, which cannot be lost, shared or stolen. Resellers should aim to combine security approaches with mechanisms that allow systems to work integrally to effect greater protection, requiring not only legitimately issued cards but also correct facial features that correspond to assigned card holders before permitting access. Advanced 3D systems provide consistent results regardless of ambient light conditions, background color, facial cosmetics and accessories such as hats or glasses. The high rates of accuracy and speed characteristic of non-invasive 3D facial recognition systems are unprecedented.
More applications for 3D facial biometrics
Although physical access control has been among the most common applications for 3D face recognition there are many others. Using the various A4Vision software developer tools, a system can be configured to conduct multiple functions, such as time and attendance applications, identity verification solutions and site security control.
Ryan Zlockie is director of product management at A4Vision. He has extensive experience in leading product development and market launch efforts for enterprise level commercial applications in access control and identification management systems. He was a Sr. Product Manager for Diebold Card Systems prior to joining A4Vision.