DOD buying into facial recognition

DARPA Human ID at a Distance program

The use of facial recognition solutions is rapidly gaining steam in the Defense Department, as evidenced by the recent award of two contracts to further develop the technology.

DOD's Technical Support Working Group awarded one of the contracts; the other was from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The working group has been using Viisage Technology Inc. for facial recognition solutions since 1998. On May 29, it awarded the Littleton, Mass.-based company a $4.1 million contract for the continued development of solutions focused on security, intelligence and anti-terrorism efforts. The one-year contract is worth more than $2.5 million and includes two additional one-year options that together are worth up to $4.1 million.

Viisage's past work with the group has included applications for access control, surveillance and large database searching for various federal, military and intelligence agencies. The latest award eventually will combine solutions from Viisage and German-based ZN Vision Technologies AG, a provider of facial recognition solutions that Viisage is in the process of acquiring.

In related news, DARPA last month awarded Identix Inc. an additional $1 million for continued participation in the Human ID at a Distance program.

The goal of the program, according to DARPA, is to develop automated biometric identification technologies, including facial, gait and iris recognition, to detect, recognize and identify humans at great distances. Under the terms of the extended contract, Identix will continue to improve its core FaceIt face recognition technology, registration approaches and advanced statistical techniques.

The new funding awarded by the DARPA program office runs through the end of May 2004.

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