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News Link • Surveillance

The convergence of biometrics, location and surveillance

What is biometric matching and how might it be used in future consumer applications? Alex Kilpatrick: Biometrics is the science that studies things that make an individual unique. Interestingly enough, there are lots of things that make an individual unique, especially when examined closely enough. The most common is fingerprints, but the pattern of ridges on your palms and feet are just as unique. Your iris, the colored part of your eye, is extremely easy to read and unique, even among twins. The shape of your ear, the way you walk, the size of your hands, your smell, the way you talk, and of course your face are all unique. Biometric matching comes in two forms: verification and identification. Verification is when I come to a sensor and say "I am Alex Kilpatrick" and the sensor verifies that one of my biometrics, perhaps my face, matches the biometric on record. This type of matching is relatively easy. Identification is when I present a biometric to a system and ask it "Who is this?" That is a much harder problem, especially when there are hundreds of millions of records. The FBI deals with this problem every day, taking unknown fingerprints from crime scenes and looking for a match in their database containing millions of records.

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