Scents and sensibility

Biometric technology isn't all about hands, eyes and faces — there's also body odor. The recent book "Biometrics: Identity Assurance in the Information Age" cites human scent among several "esoteric" biometrics. The concept involves building a sensor that can detect patterns in the chemical substances that make up a person's unique aroma. Other fringe biometric efforts focus on vein patterns, sweat pores and gait. The latter is the subject of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency study.

However, the book's authors caution that such esoteric examples are "not intended to suggest future directions, only possibilities." They point out that large test datasets for esoteric biometrics don't yet exist, so performance is "speculative or undetermined."

Other emerging biometrics are more down-to-earth and available for use today. Examples include voice print authentication and signature biometrics. Prianka Chopra, an industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan, sees the two methods gaining more traction in the commercial market. "I don't think government-based identification projects are where these two will get their growth," she said.

Still, Steve Chambers, chief marketing officer for voice-recognition vendor SpeechWorks International Inc., believes voice authentication can play a role at federal agencies. The State Department is evaluating the company's product in a proof-of-concept demonstration for network access control. And the Social Security Administration has run a pilot program that uses a voiceprint solution from Authentify Inc. to authenticate company representatives who file W-2s electronically.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.