Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Familiar faces provide tighter security

A new security system is being developed that combines a radio-frequency card reader with real-time facial recognition to provide a simple yet secure method of access control.

Background

Security is an integral part of modern life, and both industry and public authorities e...
A new security system is being developed that combines a radio-frequency card reader with real-time facial recognition to provide a simple yet secure method of access control.

Background

Security is an integral part of modern life, and both industry and public authorities employ measures to protect people and property. Controlling access to specific locations or information is a key security factor, but security cards and PIN numbers are far from foolproof. An alternative is to identify personnel by physical attributes such as fingerprints or retina patterns, but such methods are relatively slow because they require close contact with a scanner. Faces can be recognised from a distance, however, and in theory it should be possible to develop a face-recognition security system that works fast enough for personnel to simply walk through a checkpoint.

Working partnerships

The development of a walk-by access control system is being carried out as an EU Innovation project, WABY. The definition phase of the project started in May 1998 and the implementation phase began in January 1999. The project will combine an innovative radio-frequency (RF) card developed by Dutch company Nedap NV, with existing face-recognition technology from two German companies, C-Vis and ZN. FaceSnap from C-Vis is based on real-time video, while ZN-Face works with still images. Two potential end-users, Rabobank and Schipol Airport, will test two pilot systems under realistic working conditions prior to commercialisation.

Description, impact and results

Nedap's hands-free RF cards are currently used to unlock doors automatically as people approach them. They work at a range of up to 1 metre. In the WABY project, the card will be used to identify automatically a person approaching a checkpoint. This security measure will be backed up by a video-camera system that simultaneously captures an image of the person's face and tries to match it with a previously recorded image.

Face-recognition software is extremely accurate. The companies involved believe that if a human can recognise a person, the computer can too. In fact, with a failure rate of less than 1%, the computer may be more accurate. Of course, faces change with time, but the main applications for this software will be inside companies where employees will be co-operating with the system. Any major facial changes, for example the addition or removal of a beard, can be made by simply updating the image database.

The project is starting with a thorough analysis of user requirements, after which the key technologies will be integrated and scaled up for specific applications. A prototype system should be ready by early 2000, and the two pilot systems should be undergoing trials by the end of that year. WABY has obvious applications for any organisation that needs to restrict access to sensitive areas, such as industrial or government buildings, which is the market the system will target initially. However, it has great potential for use where the monitoring of people and their movements is vital for security reasons.


Source: European Commission, DG XIII/D.4 - Information and dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge

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