We’ve seen biometrics grow by incredible leaps and bounds in the 21st century so far – and we’ve only just begun. Thanks to improved technology (which is now smaller, faster and more affordable), biometrics systems work more quickly and efficiently. Socially, the use of facial recognition started to become more acceptable and mobile biometric solutions have become common. From smartphone security to airport screening, it is now becoming a facet of everyday life. Here’s how we got there.

 

  • In 2000, the first Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT) was held – it evaluated multiple commercially available biometric systems and large-scale databases. It has been since used to perform evaluations of fingerprints (2003) and iris recognition (2006) systems.
  • Also in 2000, a Biometric Systems bachelor’s program (unaccredited) was developed by West Virginia University in collaboration with the FBI. It was the first degree program of its kind.
  • In 2001, the Tampa Super Bowl used a facial recognition system to prohibit known criminals from entering the stadium. Unfortunately, there were about a dozen false positives (innocent sports fans) and zero true positives (no recognized criminals). Because of the media coverage this caused, it spurned Congressional inquiries into biometrics and its associated privacy concerns – and these thoughts became ingrained the consciousness of the general public.
  • In 2002, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) established the ISO/IEC JTC1 Subcommittee 37 (JTC1 /SC37) for the standardization of biometric solutions, data exchange, and interoperability across various systems.
  • At the same time and along those same lines in 2002, the M1 Technical Committee on Biometrics was established by the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to develop standards across accredited ANSI member organizations.
  • In April 2002, a staff paper on palm print technology was submitted to the Identification Services (IS) Subcommittee, Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS), and the Advisory Policy Board (APB). The Joint Working Group called “for strong endorsement of the planning, costing, and development of an integrated latent print capability for palms at the CJIS Division of the FBI.” As a result, the FBI launched the Next Generation IAFIS initiative. It was tasked with developing and deploying an integrated National Palm Print Service and system.
  • In 2003, the U.S. Government’s National Science & Technology Council initiated a Subcommittee on Biometrics tasked with coordinating research, development, policy, outreach, and international collaboration.
  • On May 28, 2003, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted an international blueprint for the integration of facial recognition biometric data into passports and other Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTD).
  • The European Biometrics Forum was also formed in 2003 – an independent organization supported by the European Commission that aims to establish the European Union as the World Leader in Biometrics Excellence. It focused on addressing adoption barriers and market fragmentation.
  • In 2004, the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology (US-VISIT) security program was formed to confirm the identity of visa travelers, integrating digital photos and inkless fingerprints. For visa-waiver travelers, biometrics are captured at the port of entry. US-VISIT verifies whether the traveler has previously been determined inadmissible, is a known security risk (outstanding warrants), or has overstayed the terms of a former visa.
  • The Department of Defense implemented the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) in 2004. It identified and tracked people considered threats to national security by collecting iris images, ten rolled fingerprints, voice samples, DNA (oral swab), and up to five mugshots from persons of interest.
  • In 2004, President Bush announced the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, which required all federal government employees and contractors to have mandatory personal identification cards containing stored minutia templates including two fingerprints.
  • Also in 2004, California, Rhode Island, and Connecticut established palm print databases that allow law enforcement to submit unidentified prints and compare them to other databases of offenders.
  • And finally in 2004, the U.S. Government sponsored the Face Recognition Grand Challenge (FRGC) develop algorithms to improve specific identified areas of interest in face recognition. Participating researchers were tasked with developing algorithms to improve specific areas of facial recognition.
  • In 2005, the Sarnoff Corporation (now SRI International) demonstrated “Iris on the Move” (ability to collect iris images from individuals walking through a portal) at a Biometrics Consortium conference. It is the culmination of research and prototypes sponsored by the Intelligence Technology Innovation Center (ITIC) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
  • In the summer of 2008, Google Maps enabled voice search on the BlackBerry and Nokia mobile phones. iPhone didn’t launch this ability until November 2008.
  • Also in 2008, the U.S. Government’s Department of Defense and FBI began to develop more advanced databases for not just fingerprints but also palm, face and iris data. The Department of Homeland Security denied an individual entry into the U.S. after it was able to cross match biometric data with that of a suspected terrorist.