Saying 'Cheese' for More Effective Border Security

Nov 25, 2008
A graphical overlay can improve the quality of facial images obtained by facial recognition systems. Credit: NIST

Facial recognition systems perform some very challenging tasks such as checking an individual’s photo against a database of known or suspected criminals. The task can become nearly impossible when the systems acquire poor facial images—a situation that occurs all too often in real-world environments. Now, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have found that several simple steps can significantly improve the quality of facial images that are acquired at border entry points such as airports and seaports.

Better yet, the NIST recommendations for improving facial images can be implemented relatively easily with existing facial recognition technology.

Travelers entering the United States have their pictures taken and their fingerprints collected digitally as part of the US-VISIT program implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). US-VISIT and NIST work together on an ongoing basis to improve processes and technology. A 2007 NIST study of facial images collected at border entry points, however, found that the captured facial images were not as clear and useful for automated recognition as they could be.

In usability and human factors research performed for US-VISIT as part of a large joint effort to improve facial recognition technology, NIST’s Mary Theofanos and her colleagues sought simple ways of obtaining better facial images in often hectic real-world conditions without having to deploy new technology. The NIST researchers first visited and observed a DHS border entry point at Dulles Airport in the Washington, D.C. area to see the facial-image capturing process.

As a result of these observations, the researchers identified and shared with US-VISIT a number of steps to take for acquiring better facial images. For example, the report recommends that operators should adjust camera settings to ensure the subject comes into sharp focus. The report also recommends using a traditional-looking camera in facial-recognition systems so that individuals could clearly recognize the camera and look into it.

Following the Dulles site visit, a study adopted these steps in taking facial images of 300 participants while mimicking the real-world conditions of a border entry point. In these tests, 100 percent of the images fully captured the participant's face; all of the participants faced the camera; and the researchers found additional improvements by using a graphical overlay to the camera display in order to better position the camera.

The researchers believe these steps will improve the performance of facial recognition systems in real-world settings using existing technology. A follow-up study is underway in which the researchers are incorporating the graphical overlay into the workflow of camera operators.

Report: M. Theofanos, B. Stanton, C. Sheppard, R. Micheals, J. Libert and S. Orandi. Assessing Face Acquisition. NIST Interagency Report (NISTIR) 7540, Sept. 2008. zing.ncsl.nist.gov/biousa/docs/face_IR-7540.pdf

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Explore further: Student designs and develops revolutionary new hand-held laminating tool

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wolves discriminate quantities better than dogs

5 minutes ago

Being able to mentally consider quantities makes sense for any social species. This skill is important during the search for food, for example, or to determine whether an opponent group outnumbers one's own. ...

Getting bot responders into shape

8 minutes ago

Sandia National Laboratories is tackling one of the biggest barriers to the use of robots in emergency response: energy efficiency.

Red color slowly disappearing from Van Gogh's paintings

11 minutes ago

Recent scientific research has revealed that the blue irises in Van Gogh's Field with Irises near Arles were once purple. That is because the red is slowly disappearing from Van Gogh's paintings. The discolouration ...

Recommended for you

EDAG car with textile skin set for Geneva show

22 hours ago

Making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show 2015 is the EDAG Light Cocoon. This is promoted as a new dimension for lightweight construction, a sportscar with a textile outer skin panel. The EDAG Light Cocoon ...

Stanford aims to bring player pianos back to life

Dec 17, 2014

(AP)—Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano, which brought recorded music into living rooms long before there were cassettes, compact discs or iPods.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.