Your critical lens on the world of biometrically enabled identification solutions

Volume 3, Issue 4


October 2008

Inside this Issue

- Editor's Intro
- Sagem Buys Printrak
- "Iris, Iris Everywhere ..."
- Beyond AFIS: The Future of Law Enforcement ID
- Conference Debrief: BCC & Biometrics 2008


Published by

Manage your subscription

spacer spacer spacer

Stagnation or Evolution?

There was quite a bit of talk at two recent leading industry events about the events themselves. Whether they had become somewhat "stale" relative to the state of the industry. At the Biometrics Consortium Conference in Tampa Florida in late September and again at Biometrics 2008 just last week in London, many of the folks I spoke to mulled over whether these events were still relevant and what that might mean for the biometrics industry. Was this the ultimate navel gazing or serious reflection on how our industry has evolved?

Coveted case studies that once held audiences rapt now seem passé. There was a general malaise among the attendees. This is a far cry from the defensive posture that dominated these events just a few years ago when everyone was trying to prove that biometrics actually worked. While this does pose questions as to the future viability of these events (at least in their present format), oddly enough, I believe it is actually good news for our industry. The fact that we have become rather bored and uninspired by our own success reflects substantive progress towards the mainstreaming of biometrics.

Coverage in this edition of the eUpdate reflects this evolution. Beyond the debrief on these industry gatherings, comments on Sagem's purchase of Motorola's AFIS business and the emergence of iris from the realm of "exotic" to that of "pragmatic" are examples of the type of steady incremental progress towards biometrics as mainstream that Acuity has forecast. In addition, excerpts from Revolutionary Ideas, an article I wrote for the October/November 2008 edition of Jane's Police Product Review provide insight not only into how the use of biometrics is likely to continue to evolve within Law Enforcement community, but also how the evolution of biometrics and related technologies will revolutionize Law Enforcement Identification itself.

As always, your feedback is welcome. And please feel free to forward your copy of the eUpdate to colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.


C. Maxine Most


For more in-depth analysis and strategic market development expertise, Acuity provides highly targeted custom research and consulting services as well as publishing comprehensive biometric and identification solutions market reports and forecasts.


C. Maxine Most    
Acuity Market Intelligence      

To Top


Contact Acuity

Acuity Market Intelligence | 640 W Linden St | Louisville, C0 80027| USA

    +1 303 449 1897

spacer spacer

Sagem Buys Motorola

SAFRAN's wholly owned subsidiary Sagem Securite has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the biometric business unit of Motorola, Inc. including its Printrak trademark. Both Motorola and SAFRAN have approved the acquisition.

This deal reflects the dynamics of a biometrics industry increasingly dominated by two key players - Sagem and L-1 - and the evolution from AFIS centric identification towards complex, multi-dimensional, integrated biometric and non-biometric identification solutions (see Beyond AFIS: The Future of Law Enforcement ID below). In the short term, this move would seem to further complicate an already convoluted industry value chain. However, in the long run this type of consolidation offers the promise of a sustainable value chain where several large specialized identification focused solution providers (and I would argue we need at least 2 or 3 more) stabilize the market and cultivate market opportunities for small technology focused companies.

The vision looks something like this.... Large solution-oriented "Identification Big Boys" (L-1, Sagem, others?) provide ID solution expertise to the more broadly based large-scale system integrators, support innovation through R&D funding of smaller, highly-focused technology based companies, and most importantly, provide standards based frameworks that ensures interpretability and scalability for evolving "plug 'n play" biometric and related ID technology components. The highly-focused biometric core technology companies provide on-going innovation in modality and sensor development, capture and authentication devices, and matching algorithms and methodologies while being essentially forced to engineer to established industry standards.

This type of mutually beneficial identification ecosystem would simultaneously address key obstacles for market development, provide genuine opportunity for ongoing innovation, and more rapidly grow the opportunity pie for everyone

To Top

spacer spacer

"Iris, Iris Everywhere ..."

So, we've got iris at a distance, Iris on The Move©, a plethora of configurations of portable iris, single and dual iris capture, iPhone based iris, overt and covert iris, volume iris capture, and tiny little iris cameras that can be embedded into just about anything. Iris for access control, labor management, border control, sex offender identification, population ID, refugee repatriation, benefits distribution, ATM access, and the list goes on and on.

The market for iris recognition has essentially become as complex and fragmented as the market for finger and face recognition technologies. Anyone long for the simpler days of a tightly held, patent-locked market? Just kidding. This is, of course, the logical and beneficial outcome of the "opening up" of the iris marketplace.

Acuity has made the case for the past several years that as iris technology evolves and incorporates distance based, passive capture and smaller form factors, and as the cost of the technology becomes competitive with other biometrics, that it offers unique authentication capabilities as a"touchless", "do-nothing biometric". We are now seeing this reflected in the marketplace with a onslaught of new vendors, products, form factors, and applications. If the market plays out as Acuity expects, Iris will account for roughly 20% of the total biometric market. As price/performance curves continue to drop, iris will become the biometric of choice, particularly for commercial and personal applications that are not constrained by the need to search against established databases.

Wahoo! Iris has arrived!

To Top

spacer spacer

Beyond AFIS: Multi-dimensional Law Enforcement ID

The following are excerpts from a recently published Acuity article appearing in Jane's Police Product Review entitled Revolutionary Ideas.

The competition

Institutional confidence in the use of fingerprints and the subsequent reliance on AFIS as the best available and most effective biometric means of identifying individuals, has been bolstered by an established infrastructure dedicated to providing specialised technology and services. There are now, however, a range of emerging biometric technologies that have achieved the level of stability and reliability required to expand law enforcement’s options for unique positive identification. In addition, a fundamental shift from proprietary technology to standards-based biometric capture and matching, along with the development of standards-based platforms that enable integration of a broad range of human identification options, have the potential to advance criminal identification to a whole new level. The three pillars of this law enforcement identification ‘revolution’ are:

  • development of advanced practical biometric capabilities

  • development of standards-based multiple identification technology platforms

  • integration of sophisticated methodologies and algorithms into systems that unite conventional and emerging identification capabilities.


Advanced practical biometrics

Automated fingerprint identification systems have enjoyed the status of an effective, established biometric technology that offers demonstrable benefits in the critical task of identifying and prosecuting criminals. Biometrics in general, however, have a less favorable reputation of over-promising and under-performing. This dynamic is poised for change. Two key factors are driving this - genuine technology capability and performance improvements and, perhaps more importantly, a developing understanding of how biometrics can be most effectively deployed to solve specific law enforcement problems. This is particularly true of both face and iris recognition. These technologies have not only had vital image capture and processing issues resolved, but also have extended their capabilities with the advent of very high resolution, distance-based, high-quality image capture. These developments - combined with the ability to extract reasonable face or iris images from relatively standardised digital image capture devices - have begun to position face and iris recognition as potential forensic biometrics challenging AFIS's unique position as the only biometric with forensic capabilities.


Integrated advanced ID

Truly advanced identification platforms are not just about biometrics matching, but more complex profile-matching that integrates and fuses various identification technologies and methodologies in multi-jurisdictional environments. This evolution of a more sophisticated multiple identification technology platform is poised to radically transform the business of law enforcement. The combination of conventional identification methods – such as biographic information and body marks – with this advanced technology will foster complex, multilayered, multi-dimensional profiles that can be searched and matched on any single identifier or any combination of identifiers. This requires the creation of complex databases that enable advanced searching capabilities. Data sourced from across the law enforcement community will be searched and matched to continually enhance criminal profiles.


The future

This type of complex and multi-dimensional fusion is in many ways the ‘Holy Grail’ of identification. Law enforcement agencies will have the tools to quickly identify and distinguish threats from non-threats, focusing resources on high-risk individuals. This scenario is not a far-flung futuristic vision, but rather the inevitable outcome of identification, database, platform, and searching and matching algorithm capabilities that exist today. Most of the pieces are in place. The challenge and the opportunity is to bring them together in a way that provides a practical, highperformance alternative to today’s automated fingerprint identification systems. While this is not a trivial undertaking, it is also not an insurmountable one. In the end, the systems used today will morph and evolve over time. First, into Automated Multiple Biometric Information Systems that rely on the creation of more complete biometric profiles. And ultimately, into Automated Multi- Modal Identification Systems where complex multi-mode identification profiles give law enforcement officials highly-sophisticated tools that save time, money, and lives.

For the compete Revolutionary Ideas article, see page 47 of the October/November 2008 edition of Jane's Police Product Review.

To Top

spacer spacer

Conference Debrief: BCC & Biometrics 2008

Biometrics Consortium Conference, Sept. 23 -25, 2008, Tampa Convention Center

This years BCC was in warm and wonderful Tampa Florida. As much as I, and many of my industry colleagues, enjoyed the weather, general consensuses was "what the heck are we doing in Tampa?" There was a collective nostalgia in the air for the Crystal City Hyatt. While it is likely no longer practical for the BCC to be held in Crystal City, a DC environs location is a more than the logical choice for a conference that is primarily devoted to and designed for government officials. And, while I would argue serious consideration should be given to how best to broaden this event to be more attractive to the commercial marketplace, DC is probably still the best choice.

One rather unsettling experience for me came as I listened to Donald Loren - Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Security Integration - deliver his keynote on "Leveraging Identity Management and Biometrics in Support of Homeland Defense". At the beginning of his address, Mr. Loren stated that primary responsibility of the President of the United States is to "defend and protect the homeland". Silly me, I always thought it was to protect and defend the Constitution. If this was not enough to make my head explode, Mr. Loren, continued to say that the biometrics industry was vital to overcoming the challenging and dangerous identification disconnect that spanned from the DOD, across Federal and Sate Law Enforcement, to Local Law Enforcement. Sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. Undersecretary, but our pesky little legal system was DESIGNED THIS WAY ON PURPOSE! Specifically, our Founding Fathers feared the kind of meshing and merging of Defense and Law Enforcement that you are advocating. They were determined to protect freedom and privacy from overbearing government intrusion and to limit the role of Defense capabilities within the homeland.

I do recognize that there may be an appropriate role for this type of integrated identity-based intelligence to protect the Homeland and keep citizens safe. However, it gives even more weight to one of my favorite soap boxes, that we in the biometrics industry have a grave and moral responsibility to do all that we can to ensure that the technology we create is not and CAN NOT be used to give unbridled power to the Government. We need to actively and forcefully make the case that both commercial and government applications of biometrics should be used in ways that enhance, not invade, privacy and civil liberties.

Biometrics 2008, October 21-23, QE2 Center, London

Where was the controversy in London this year? Where was the vision?

Elsevier's conference continues to be the premier biometric industry event. The quality of the program and the professionalism with which the event is managed continues to set the standard. And while there were refreshing and thought provoking moments, I was surprised that we were not treated to one of the usual controversial characters we had seen in years gone by. Whether it be Simon Davies from Privacy International or Phil Booth from NO2ID, we have grown accustom to at least one session that provokes a "spirited" debate and raises the blood pressure just a bit. On the vision side, we were deluged with case studies indicating serious maturity in the marketplace without the type of big vision that inspires confidence in the on-going sustainability of the marketplace. Perhaps, the financial melt down cast a pall on the event? Perhaps the format needs to be revisited as the industry matures?

Personally, I would like to see more of a workshop aspect to the event that encouraged more in-depth focus and discussion on specific industry issues. The conference attracts a virtual biometric brain trust from established and innovative industry players, academia, government, and the financial and market analyst communities. As the conference has grown and become more successful, the level of interaction has decreased and there are only so many PowerPoint presentations one can sit through. I applaud industry progress and I am pleased that there are so many success stories but I might have to start some hair pulling is I have to sit through one more "break through" case study!

As to the refreshing and thought provoking moments ...

San Jose State's Director of the Biometric Test Center, Dr. Jim Wayman spoke on the language of biometrics. The Topic "The Vocabulary Harmonization work of ISO/IEC JTC1 SC37" presented by anyone else might have been a snoozer, but delivered with his usual flair, Jim's comments on standardized definitions and use of language relative to biometrics was fascinating. This is more than an academic exercise. Consistent, understandable terminology is critical to creating communications that support a thriving marketplace ... let alone the ability to accurately measure and compare technology and solution capabilities and performance.

Russ Ryan of the NBSP raised an issue that is often lost in our industry's navel gazing. We continue to measure technology performance in negative terms: Failure to Enroll Rates, Failure to Accept Rates. As Russ posited - is there any other industry serious about selling products to customers that talks exclusively about how it fails? Shouldn't we be talking about Acceptance Rates rather then Rejection Rates? Bravo Russ! Perhaps a pow-wow with Jim Wayman is appropriate?

Some of the original Founders of A4 Vision, which was purchased by BioScrypt and subsequently incorporated into L-1, have resurfaced in the form of the Artec Group. They developed a new 3D capture and recognition technology that is extremely impressive. At least as a demo on the Exhibit Hall Floor. Their 3D face based access control device is integrated with a turnstile operating at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The demo version of this system in their booth enrolled and authenticated near instantaneously and it was the turnstile - not the face recognition - that limited throughput. Translating innovation into products is always a challenge but these folks have lots of lessons learned from the A4 experience to draw on. Artec is definitely one to watch

To Top

spacer spacer

Additional Services

For custom research, analysis or strategic market development consulting, visit Acuity Market Intelligence or call +1 303 449 1897



Comments, criticisms, corrections & kudos!

We welcome all feedback:



You're welcome to reprint BMI eUpdate articles. Just Send a request with a link to your publication.


Manage Your Subscription

Subscribe/Unsubscribe:  online or via email include name, company, country phone & email
New email: send an email include your previous and new email addresses

©Copyright 2008 Acuity Market Intelligence, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
The editor makes no guarantees on the opinions expressed herein. This publication may be forwarded electronically in it's entirety. However, no part of this publication may be published in any form without explicit consent of the publisher.