Biometrics technology has matured, offering some exciting new forensic products—and promising revolutionary innovations in the near future.
As 3D modeling, digital imaging, and data collection and processing mature, the possibilities for biometric identification systems are growing. Looking forward, we can expect significant developments in biometric solutions for law enforcement.
With more sophisticated algorithms, a greater ability to collect and process a variety of individual identifiers, and the technology to make biometrics devices smarter and more portable, most experts expect much more effective and efficient products on the market in the future, allowing suspects to be more quickly identified and confirmed—even in the field. Executives at several prominent biometrics companies agree that the area that will see the most growth is multi-modal biometrics.
David Klug, Senior Manager, Business Development, at MorphoTrak (formed in April from the merger of Sagem Morpho and Printrak, Motorola’s biometric division) expects “future advances in biometrics will involve vein pattern analysis, sweat pore identification, fingernail bed identification, ear shape identification, footprint and foot dynamics, gait identification, and facial thermography. Even the uniqueness of an individual’s body odor lends itself to identification methods.”
All these possible identifiers can only improve the chances of finding a suspect. As Sergey Karlin, Product Manager for L-1 Identity Solutions explains, “the forensic use of biometrics will evolve in the future to incorporate more modalities to increase matching performance and solve more crimes quickly. More biometric data will be collected during arrests and kept in multi-modal databases for future matching.” The Department of Defense is leading the trend with its Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) multi-modal database. The FBI is not far behind with its Next Generation IAFIS project.
“Multi-modal biometrics is a very exciting development,” adds James Grau, President and CEO of Cross Match Technologies. “Not only does this technology improve the accuracy of verifying identities, but it is also more robust in addressing real-world issues associated with biometrics collection. If a fingerprint has been damaged, then a multi-modal system can still function by examining an iris or a speech pattern. If the quality of a particular captured biometric is poor, good identity verification results can still be achieved by looking at other personal characteristics.”
David Tunnell, Vice President of Technest Holdings’ 3D-ID Division, takes this concept to the next step believing the future of biometrics is in collecting passive biometric data. “The ability to capture and compare biometrics passively, without any contact with an individual is very exciting. Fingerprint and similar biometric technologies require contact of a body part with a device and accuracy is a chief concern. Now, the push is on to bring about new biometric technologies that can be performed at a stand-off distance, without the knowledge of an individual. The use of advanced 3D imaging in biometric forensics will dramatically impact the accuracy and speed of making correlations. Other biometrics that can be recorded on video, such as faces, mannerisms, and even gait will become much more prevalent in the future with this exciting new technology.”
If all this sounds a bit like science fiction, perhaps you haven’t been keeping abreast of some of the recent biometrics advancements.