Monday, August 8, 2022

Researchers seek new methods of identification

April 12, 2001
Anil Jain, professor of computer science and engineering, is working on methods of biometric verification, such as fingerprints, that would make identifying people using a computer easier and more reliable. “I can recognize you if you change your hair if I’ve seen you a few times,” said Jain, “but a computer can’t.” —

MSU computer scientists are looking to create technology that works for you - and only you.

Anil Jain, a professor of computer science and engineering, has been studying various methods of personal identification for the past 10 years.

“One of the areas I have been involved in is how to identify individuals based on physiological characteristics,” Jain said.

“Hopefully it will lead to more reliable and cost-effective ways of identifying people.”

As the world becomes more modern, many identification methods are being used, such as facial imaging, iris scans and retinal scans, speech patterns and fingerprints.

The study of identification methods is known as biometrics. Its purpose is to recognize patterns and match them.

However, some methods are more reliable than others, Jain said.

“Some identification methods can change with time or can be forged, like a signature,” he said. “Even in a method like voice recognition, speech patterns can change due to a cough or cold.

“What we are trying to do is present identification methods with the highest possible level of accuracy.”

The group is primarily studying three methods, he said.

“The main one we’re working with is fingerprinting, which is a reliable method because no two are alike,” Jain said. “Even if your finger is cut, the pattern grows back the same.”

Possible applications for facial imaging and hand geometry are also being researched.

Jain works side-by-side with a team of doctorate students. Together, they have presented companies, such as IBM and Siemans, real-world applications of their research.

One of the applications is called the ID mouse. It works and looks the same as any computer mouse but it’s equipped with a fingerprint scanner designed to designate users and therefore bypass passwords and pin numbers.

Arun Ross, a computer science graduate student, has worked with Jain for three years and helped to design the ID mouse.

“Figuring out the matching systems and improving their performance is very interesting work,” he said. “Right now we’re trying to integrate multiple identification techniques like using fingerprints and a facial scan.”

Salil Prabhakar, a computer science graduate student, has been researching identification methods with Jain for more than four years.

Prabhakar said both he and Ross have always wanted to work with pattern recognition.

“These identification methods are to make sure you are the genuine person and should be granted access to whatever you are using,” he said.

Prabhakar is studying ways of having two matching mathematical equations working to identify the same fingerprint.

“The main advantage is it’s much faster to match fingerprints,” he said. “And at the same time ours is the best program in terms of accuracy.”


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