In May, the U.S. House Subcommittees on Research and Technology held a joint hearing to discuss the state of biometric technologies, their current applications, future uses, challenges of adoption and how they can impact public policies.
Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) noted that biometric technology has made inroads in business, government and industry over the last two decades in becoming a way to enhance security and control access. In terms of government-related biometrics projects, Buchson spoke of the Department of Homeland Security’s recent information solicitation on commercially available live scan fingerprint systems that government agencies on all levels may be able to implement.
Those who testified in front of the committees represented government, industry and academic sectors. Charles H. Romine, director of the Information Technology Laboratory at NIST spoke about the projects the agency had been working on in adding biometric functions to authentication methods in order to provide higher security, such as the e-passport program. NIST is also working on protocols for web service biometric capture and is working on various modality testing programs.
Additionally, NIST is exploring the issue of privacy issues in biometrics through collaboration and grants for the research community to evaluate new techniques in privacy.
John C. Mears, a board member of the International Biometrics and Identification Association, testified on the technology behind biometric identification and what the association recommends to further adoption of the technology. Recommendations include reaching out to understand achievements and failures in the field; leveraging industry associations for information; understanding the ideal applications for different biometric modalities and reaching out to industry for understanding the available commercial technology.
Mears testified that smart personal devices will help drive biometric applications for commercial and consumer markets and that specific industries, such as financial services and healthcare will implement the technology.
In terms of biometric technology, Mears noted emerging technologies such as rapid DNA identification, simultaneous face and iris capture, scent as a biometric, fingerprint capture without dusting or touching a sensor, voice identification, portable people identification capability. Cardio-pulmonary patterns may become a viable biometric identifier. Analytics will also be more useful in direct application to pictures and video to extract information.
Stephanie A.C. Schuckers, director of the Center for Identification Technology Research and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Clarkson University, testified on the research field. Schuckers noted that biometrics could be used to authenticate e-commerce transactions.
Schuckers also notes that further investment in research would help with some of the challenges that biometrics is facing, particularly in terms of identity management, security and privacy. Schuckers testified that keeping at the forefront of the technology was vital and close collaboration between industry, university and academia could help drive innovation.