Scientists Test Gait Biometrics

Biometric technology that identifies people by the way they walk could be used to bolster security at airports and at the 2012 Olympic Games, say researchers.

The gait recognition technology being developed at the University of Southampton has the potential to support fingerprint and iris recognition technology.

Project head John Carter says the way a person walks is unique, and the system could be used to identify individuals in a closed environment such as airports.

'The technology is also relevant for the police, military and any business interested in access control,' he said.

'Tests have been 100 per cent accurate and now we want to expand trials to as many as 3,000 people.' The university has developed a tunnel that contains eight digital cameras that record a person's movements and generates a 3D model of the individual.

'The cameras also capture facial recognition information to assist identification if one method is unsuitable,' said Carter. 'It will not work in isolation, but offers a degree of security that is less invasive.' Further testing will assess how injury or illness may affect the way people walk.

The technology could be used as passengers pass through initial security checks and be linked to airport check-in databases to allow passengers to be matched to their gait.

A spokesman for BAA, which operates seven UK airports, says it is interested in emerging biometric technologies.

'We must be sure that biometric technology is 100 per cent accurate and can be implemented in a mass transaction environment,' he said.

'Heathrow processes 68 million passengers a year and any new technology must not inconvenience passengers.' Forrester analyst Henry Harteveldt says the gait system may be more suited to airport employees accessing restricted areas.

'What it does show is how many aspects there are to biometrics beyond the obvious applications such as iris recognition and fingerprints,' he said.

'It is good to incorporate as many as possible to verify people and anything that enriches the information security has to keep people safe is beneficial.'

<<Computing -- 03/23/07>>