BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Biometrics, the science of identifying
individuals based on their physical, chemical or behavioral
characteristics, is a key piece in homeland security strategies,
but no single biometric -- such as face, signature or fingerprint
-- fits all applications, says the director of the University at
Buffalo's Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors (CUBS).
Many of the systems on the market have a high false-positive
rate, which could be misleading or even dangerous, according to
Venu Govindaraju, Ph.D., director of CUBS and UB professor of
computer science and engineering.
For that reason, he says, the UB center takes a unique approach
to developing technologies in biometrics, combining and "tuning"
different biometrics to fit specific applications.
"We believe success in this area depends on being able to
combine and 'tune' technologies to different applications by using
contextual knowledge about how the data will be used," said
Govindaraju. "The technology for these applications exists. Now
it's a question of figuring out how to build the best devices."
CUBS has secured funding to create systems that:
* Could quickly identify suspicious public-health patterns,
indicating a possible terrorist attack or epidemic, by automating
handwritten data collected about patients entering the nation's
emergency rooms. Funded by the National Science Foundation.
* Will help close the digital divide between the English and
non-English speaking worlds by developing the first optical
character reader (OCR) software for handwritten and machine-printed
Arabic documents so that they can be searched automatically with
keywords. Funded by the Director of Central Intelligence
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program.
* Protect Web sites against cyber terrorism using handwritten
CAPTCHAS (Completely Automated Public Turing Tests to Tell
Computers and Humans Apart), automated tests or puzzles designed to
determine whether visitors to sites are humans or machines. Funded
by the Calspan-UB Research Center.
* Bridge biometrics and forensics by matching automatically
facial characteristics described by crime victims or witnesses with
large facial databases of persons previously or allegedly involved
in crimes or acts of terrorism. Funded by the Calspan-UB Research
* Prevent credit-card fraud and protect homeland security by
combining face, fingerprint and signature biometrics, and embedding
them in smart ID cards. Funded by the New York State Office of
Science, Technology and Academic Research, UB and Ultra-Scan
* Combine biometrics, such as signatures and fingerprints, to
identify individuals entering the U.S. and to improve overall
system accuracy. Funded by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
Additional funding for CUBS projects comes from other private
high-tech firms, such as mobileLexis (Salt Lake City); Infinite
Group (Rochester, N.Y.); Uniform Data System for Medical
Rehabilitation (Amherst) and Ubique (Buffalo).
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the
State University of New York.