Storing lifelike facial photos on contactless cards for use in access control applications seems to have gotten a bit easier. HID and the Manchester, UK-based Image Metrics have demonstrated a realistic photograph stored on an HID iClass card using just 400 bytes of space.
The image can then be accessed from the card, reconstructed, and displayed on a monitor. This can enable security personnel to conduct real-time visual authentication of cardholders as they pass through security points.
Image Metrics uses a concept it calls image understanding to represent realistic facial images with an extremely small amount of data. They begin by understanding key parameters about the type of image in question–in this case a human face. This base set of parameters–in essence a generic face–is then ‘known’ to the software. To accurately portray an individual’s face, the Image Metrics system need only represent the ways in which the specific face varies from the model. This can be accomplished in far less data than if the entire face was to be represented.
How small are these images? The product is called Face400 because the size of the facial image is just 400 bytes. To put that into perspective, even a small facial photo encoded in the industry standard jpeg file format would require 10 times that amount of space.
How does it work? The Face400 software creates a its facial representation from any jpeg or bitmap image. The reconstructed facial image can then be displayed on any Microsoft Windows compatible device. This means that computers, laptops, and handhelds can be used by security personnel to view the cardholder’s image.
In the world of security, this facial comparison adds another ‘factor’ to the authentication process. If the contactless card alone was required for access, this would be considered single factor authentication. If a PIN was also required upon card presentment, this would be two-factor authentication. Adding the facial comparison adds a third factor to the mix. Often this is referred to as “something you have, something your know, and something you are.” The card is something you have, the PIN is something you know, and the facial image is the strongest form of authentication–something you are.
Look for the Image Metrics and HID iClass demonstration in the HID booth at Cardtech/Securtech next month in Orlando, Florida.