Military Used Facial Recognition to Identify bin Laden

The military used facial recognition software to verify that the man they shot in a Pakistan compound was in fact Osama bin Laden, according to Wired.

3VR’s director of research and development, Tim Frederick, explains in this video exactly how the facial recognition technology would have worked. The software’s algorithm’s makes mathematical representations of the upper half of the face, which is unique to each individual. When a user queries for that person’s face, it goes through and matches that mathematical template to the new image.

On the basis of a conversation with a “senior Defense Department official,” Wired speculates that the technology used in the bin Laden raid was the SEEKII. The device can capture facial, iris and fingerprint data and transmit it wirelessly to the organization’s database. It also has 3G, USB connectivity and a local database, for redundancy.

The military started using this type of technology in 2006, when it began recording biometric data from people they captured. It has come a long way since then, and is now working on a FLIR system that can see through walls. The device, which is still being developed, is called “Sense Through the Wall.” Military types have always been known for their creativity.

What’s so cool about this story is that these are the same types of technologies that enterprises, malls and banks are also deploying right now. As Frederick says in the video, many banks have facial recognition software that records your face when you cash a check and matches it to a previous profile. All sorts of enterprises in a variety of industries – notably hospitals that have to keep a tight grip on their controlled substances – are using fingerprint scans to do so. Heck, even laptops are using facial recognition these days.

As biometrics become more reliable, they are spreading across all aspects of the security industry. Perhaps one day in the future, it will be nothing extraordinary that military used this technology to capture the leader of al Qaeda.

Are your customers or enterprises deploying any of these biometrics? How are you using them?

Posted by Laura Williams on May 05, 2011

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