The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced that an iris recognition pilot project that dates back to 2013 is expected to become a fully operation tool for the agency starting October 1st of this year.
Part of the Next-Generation Identification service (NGI), it is touted by the agency as a faster and more accurate upgrade over more traditional identification methods. As Signal reports, the FBI’s iris recognition uses near infrared cameras capable of capturing the unique ridges and folds that are unique to each person’s iris, with scans taking only seconds to complete.
“It’s fast [but] also extremely accurate,” said Scott Rago, FBI section chief for the Biometric Services Section. “One iris image yields an accuracy rate of 98.4 percent, while a two-iris image is 98.6 percent accurate,” he added.
Rago also praised the contactless authentication technology for the advantage it poses in the reality of today’s pandemic-burdened society.
“Iris transactions are relatively small; therefore, they require little storage space. Iris capture requires less physical interaction. It’s a clean and hygienic way to identify an individual, particularly in today’s environment of COVID-19,” he said.
In addition to the official launch of the NGI program, the FBI also announced that it is currently developing machine learning and artificial intelligence-based tools to help identify an individual’s fingerprints even when they have been deliberately altered or mutilated.
“In these cases, criminals deliberately work to change their fingerprint patterns through cuts, burns or other self-induced disfigurement in an attempt to mask their identity, said FBI deputy assistant director, Kimberly Del Greco. “To combat this, we are developing an altered print detection tool that will leverage the science of artificial intelligence and machine learning to further identify or confirm the identity of a subject.”
The FBI’s existing facial recognition database was also improved via a new algorithm that, according to Del Greco, offers a 99 percent accuracy rate.
“The improved accuracy builds even more confidence in our systems and increases the ability for our partners to rely on face recognition services for vital investigative leads,” she said.
Finally, the FBI also reported that it is looking into developing a sensor large enough to be capable of scanning an entire palm print and fingerprints at the same time, in a move aimed at improving some existing fragmentation within the agency’s own system.
“Although we do not have a scanner large enough to capture the whole hand … that is what we would like to have for a best practice,” said Rago. “In this way, there is no doubt that the palm prints belong to the corresponding and attached fingerprints.”
Rago went on to say that the FBI aims to eventually be able to include a full biometric package of finger, palm and face prints, along with iris data, a mugshot and DNA all at once.
“They’re not typically submitted together in one full capture package,” he said. “The best possible scenario is to have a complete biometric record, which is for all biometrics to be collected from an arrestee at one time.”