Realtime 3D face recognition

April 2006 Access Control & Identity Management

Government agencies, banking institutions and the mining industry all stand to benefit from Motorola's new realtime, three-dimensional (3D) face recognition technology which promises more efficient, accurate authentication of individual identities by overcoming many of the limitations of existing biometrics systems.

Featuring a low-cost, compact camera and award-winning 3D facial recognition software from OEM partner A4Vision, the technology complements Motorola's comprehensive portfolio of biometric identity management and security solutions for the enrolment and issuing of secure national ID cards and passport documents.

Patrick Gilmore, Motorola's director of biometrics for the Middle East and Africa, explains: "The 3D camera projects an invisible, non-invasive light pattern onto the individual's face, working on the principle of structured or coded lighting. The structured light is distorted by the individual's facial geometry and the distortions are defined by the form of the scanned surface. Face capturing occurs at the moment when the camera and the special light take a 'picture' of the target, and the system software automates image capture and synchronises all the necessary steps of the acquisition process."

Realtime reconstruction and analysis of the 3D face surface provides high-speed recognition, with verification or identification occurring in under a second. As each person's face is unique, the system allows the differentiation of identical twins and cannot be spoofed by videos or photographs. It is easily integrated into existing access control systems and is compatible with a wide range of existing readers and PAC systems.

"Face recognition is becoming increasingly popular as a reliable identification system and is rapidly gaining ground over traditional automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) which have typically been used for criminal applications," says Gilmore. "This is due to the fact that it is far less invasive, therefore less likely to cause offence. It is also more accurate than fingerprinting, which is only able to capture 85% of individuals, as some people's fingerprints have been damaged or cannot be read."

While two-dimensional face recognition is highly sensitive to different light conditions; changes in facial hair or cosmetics; accessories such as hats, helmets or glasses; bright background colours and ageing, the new 3D solution overcomes all these problems - including movement. It provides robust and accurate identification in real-life environments and eliminates the problems of poor lighting conditions, operating in both day and night vision.

"With the recent increase in terrorist threats, governments around the world are reviewing security and user authentication technologies to prevent false identification and improve the speed and accuracy with which they can verify individual identity," adds Gilmore.

"Motorola can offer solutions with fingerprint and 2D facial recognition systems that will allow the creation of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) - compliant machine-readable travel documents. In addition, the 3D facial recognition technology (while not currently approved for use in ICAO documents), is very effective at helping to make positive identifications in conditions of poor lighting and where fast decisions are required.

The solution is available locally from Marshall International.

For more information contact David Marshall, Marshall International, 011 622 3660,, or Patrick Gilmore, Motorola, 0944 1 256 488 252,

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