Published August 8, 2013
UB engineers are developing a lie detector that works by tracking eye movement. They’re also pioneering innovative ways to secure fingerprint templates.
Because of such groundbreaking biometrics research and other advancements, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has made UB a member of its Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR). The designation is expected to:
Biometrics is the science of recognizing people based on their physiological or behavioral characteristic; this includes, but is not limited to, examining someone’s facial features and expressions, their voice and signature. Organizations as diverse as the FBI and Disney World use biometric identifiers.
Officially classified as a “NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center,” CITeR was established more than 10 years ago to bring together academia, industry and government to collaborate on biometrics research. UB’s proposal to join CITeR was supported in 2012 by the Western New York congressional delegation.
“The University at Buffalo’s designation as a Center for Identification Technology Research is another exciting advancement for Buffalo’s academic community,” says U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “This designation will allow UB to become an integral player in the field of biometrics, creating safer borders and offering new and exciting opportunities in science and technology to its students.”
Joining CITeR is an example of how UB is partnering with government, industry and institutes of higher learning to conduct innovative research that helps solve problems outside the university setting, says Liesl Folks, dean of UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
“UB’s engagement with the industry and government entities participating in CITeR will offer fantastic opportunities for faculty and graduate students to contribute to solutions to real-world biometrics problems,” she says. “Partnering in CITeR offers a great opportunity to enhance UB’s impact in this field of growing domestic and international importance.”
Five affiliates—the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, Qualcomm, Raytheon BBN Technologies and CUBRC—are partnering with UB in CITeR and have agreed to contribute about $200,000 combined annually to support the center. NSF, meanwhile, will provide $300,000 over five years.
UB’s inclusion in CITeR is based largely upon the work of the university’s Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors (CUBS). Created in 2003, CUBS advances the scientific underpinnings of biometric technologies for civilian and homeland-security applications by integrating pattern recognition and machine-learning algorithms with sensor technology.
Venu Govindaraju, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, is CUBS’ director. He also will direct UB’s CITeR site.
Govindaraju and other CUBS researchers will bring to CITeR expertise in core biometric methods, such as fingerprint and face recognition; soft biometric methods, such as gestures, age and emotion; and such related areas as advanced computer vision, robotics, cryptography and theoretical computer science.
Additionally, UB will broaden the focus of CITeR to include novel biometrics-driven applications, such as the creation of personalized “smart spaces,” says Srirangaraj Setlur, CUBS principal research scientist. Smart spaces are ordinary environments, like a conference room or highway, equipped with audio and visual sensors that can perceive and react automatically based on the identification of people in the environment.
Supplementing CITeR’s primary goal of high-quality, industry-relevant, fundamental research, another objective is to support education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.
Under the auspices of Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness for Minorities (BEAM), UB will host events that highlight biometrics applications to educate and attract local high school and undergraduate students to pursue academic degrees in STEM fields.