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Facial Recognition Technology May Screen for Terrorists

In the wake of September 11 attack on America, a government committee charged with revamping airport security has been looking into various technologies available to prevent future terrorist attacks.

Joseph Atick is the CEO of Visionics Corp and he visited the Early Show to explain how facial recognition technology may help fight terrorism.

What it is:

Facial recognition technology converts a facial image into a digital code--a face print--and that code represents the relative relationship between the facial landmarks in a person's face. That face print--code--is unique to each person, like a fingerprint.

Only 100% identical twins have identical face prints. A person has 80 landmarks in their face, such as the distance between the eyes, cheekbone formation, and the width of the nose-bridge.

How it works:

Video cameras at the airports will automatically screen the faces of everyone who passes. This technology is able to capture faces in a crowd at a distance, in motion, without subject participation, and then match each of these faces in a split second against a remote database.

At headquarters, the face print will be compared in the database with those of people who have been identified as terrorists. If there is a match, the system will alert the authorities on the ground at the location. The entire process takes a few seconds. There is no chance for human error or "racial profiling" because there is no need for a human operator to fixate on a particular person. The camera does it all automatically.

Atick is the former director--and a professor--of the Computational Neuroscience Laboratory at Rockefeller University in New York City. Before that, he directed the Neural Cybernetics Group at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University.

He led teams as they made significant breakthroughs in understanding how the human brain processes information and has served as a technical adviser to many high-tech enterprises and organizations, including NATO.

Atick is the founding member of IBIA, a trade association dedicated to supporting and advancing the collective international interests of the biometric industry as a whole. He graduated from Stanford University with a PhD in mathematical physics.

For more information, visit the International Biometric Industry Association.
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