System aims at ID duplicates
- By Brian Robinson
- Jan 15, 2002
Officials from West Virginia, which has pioneered the use of facial recognition
software for issuing driver's licenses, seek to update the state's system
to crack down on the fraudulent use of second and third licenses.
The current system involves an automated search of about 2 million motor
vehicle records to make sure that the person applying for a license is not
already in the system. The new system, in its pilot project phase, will
enable fast matching of faces even if applicants try to disguise themselves.
It uses Visionics Corp.' s FaceIt technology, which "preprocesses" images
to compensate for size, lighting, expression and pose. Then it uses a mathematical
technique called local feature analysis to produce a digital template unique
to that individual.
What makes the system so powerful, the company claims, is that it can
match faces even with changes in lighting, skin tone, facial hair, hairstyle,
eyeglasses and other features that might fool conventional face-matching
"In the pilot [program], we are trying to satisfy the [Division of Motor
Vehicles] that this technology is effective and that it doesn't generate
a large workload of false matches that can overwhelm them," said John Munday,
president of Digimarc ID Systems, the company that provides West Virginia's
current licensing system and is partnering with Visionics on the new system.
"This technology is optimized for searches against large databases [and
should substantially] cut down on the investigation time."
West Virginia has addressed the situation of people saying they have
lost their license and are applying for a new one when they didn't have
a license in the first place, he said. Now the state is starting to tackle
the issue of identifying people who already have a license and are looking
Digimarc supplies driver's license systems to 37 states, Munday said,
and if the West Virginia pilot program is successful, he expects the system
will also be taken up by many of the others.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.