ALIVE Tech buys 3D facial biometrics pioneer Geometrix
Acquisition gives ALIVE Tech a strong hold on a cutting-edge biometrics approach; company looks to the future and sees covert enrollment as the next big thing
The biometrics market got a bit smaller this week when Cumming, Georgia-based ALIVE Tech, apparently having tired of simply buying San Jose, California-based Geometrix’s 3D facial recognition products, decided to buy the entire company (and its eighteen patents) instead. Geometrix, initially funded by government agencies including DARPA, Air Force, and Navy has earned well-deserved attention over the past few years for its 3D facial shape sensing products, including an Innovation Award from Computer Graphics World, and an Advanced Technology Program award from National Institute of Standards and Technology.
3D facial biometrics represent a significant break from typical biometric solutions. In comparison to fingerprints, which have only ten to twelve matching recognition points, and 2D facial scans, which have thirty to fifty, a 3D facial scan uses more than 20,000, resulting in a more secure authentication process.
Flexibility is a factor as well. 2D scans are notorioulsy sensitive to pose position — the angle at which a person is facing the camera — and are impractical for anything other than checkpoint usage. Geometrix’s 3D scans, however, can be read from various heights, including from the top of a pole looking down.
The technology is so strong that Geometrix has taken to calling it “the world’s only facial biometric identity solutions accurate enough to control the release of hardened prisoners.” Indeed the system, working with ALIVE Tech technologiess, is currently in use in a number of Georgia county jails to manage prisoners. None of whom, the companies are quick to point out, have ever been erroneously released.
ALIVE Tech has big plans for its new acquisition. According to marketing VP Jonathan Forrester, the company hopes to use the system for covert enrollment. A bank, for instance, might want to take biometric portraits of its clients without their knowledge. Once a customer was identified as a check kiter, the system would automatically notify bank employees the next time he came in. This, however, will require the invention of a 3D video camera, something Forrester says is not yet on the market.
ALIVE Tech itself was formed in January 2006 from a merger between AWT (a Biometric Application Solution Provider) and ISP (a manufacturer’s representative company specializing in video solutions).