MSU professor and research group create lemur facial recognition system
An MSU professor is using his interests in biometric recognitions to help study one of the most endangered species in the world.
Jain said he was approached by University of Arizona assistant professor Stacey Tecot and George Washington University anthropologist Rachel Jacobs because of his research group's expertise in facial recognition.
Tecot said she and Jacobs were looking for somebody who had expertise in biometric recognition and who would allow them to track lemurs while using a non-invasive method.
“Anil was the first one we kind of saw as perfect for this project,” Tecot said. “He seemed really responsive and really excited about the potential different application of facial recognition software.”
One of the problems Jain and his research group encountered was locating the features on a lemur's face because of the hair. Jain said they had to extract the texture characteristics.
“Once we have extracted the features, then we can compare the lemurs' faces based on the features,” Jain said.
Jain said the use of biometric recognition, such as facial recognition, began 25 years ago when he started to get into fingerprint recognition. It has changed through time from being specifically used in law enforcement to an everyday use.
“At that time fingerprint had a connotation with the criminality, (and) if you tell somebody your fingerprints were taken they will right away assume that you have done something wrong,” Jain said. “But now, fingerprints are routines.”
Jain said the increase of various uses, such as unlocking a cell phone or having fingerprints taken upon entering a country to allow a background check.
“People don’t think twice about it,” Jain said. “What we did 25 years ago is suddenly being used in a variety of applications.”
Tecot said she also sees LemurFaceID being used in a variety of ways, ranging from being more portable on a smartphone, to making a more “personable experiences” with lemurs, to helping law enforcement.
“There’s wildlife trafficking issues in Madagascar, usually issues with the pet trade, and red-bellied lemurs aren’t necessarily the number one coveted lemurs for pets,” Tecot said. “We hope this is something that can eventually be adapted for other species as well.”
Possible applications such as these has led his Biometrics Research Group to be in “high demand” because of the increase need of knowledge in this field.
“The respect which our group has gained, because of our in-depth experience,” Jain said. “The persistence over the last 25 years has paid off. If people think of fingerprint research, first thing they think of is Michigan State."