The science of securityBiometrics tunnel helps identify individuals' unique walking patterns

Published 27 July 2009

The University of Southampton’s biometric tunnel provides the technology to analyze the way people walk as a unique identifier; university researchers have developed a technology which captures the unique walking patterns, and then characterizes and records them to a database

Our U.K. readers may be interested in a new BBC science series — called Bang goes the Theory — which begins its first run on Monday 27 July at 7.30 pm. Those interested in homeland security would be interested to know that the first program will deal with the science behind a new biometrics — more specifically, it will feature a unique ECS research facility aims to study the way we walk. The program will show the world’s only biometrics tunnel, which is based in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. The tunnel is a special research facility built to advance the research of Professor Mark Nixon and Dr. John Carter of the ISIS (Information: Systems, Images, Signals) group.

The ECS biometrics tunnel provides the technology to analyze the way people walk as a unique identifier. The color keying of blue and green squares ensures full image capture, with eight strategically placed cameras filming the movement of an individual as they walk through. The data is then recreated digitally using sophisticated software which enables unique walking patterns to be characterized and recorded on a database and matched to CCTV footage.

The presenters of the new show, Dallas Campbell and Liz Bonnin will be demonstrating how our walks can provide clues to our identity as we progress through public places such as airports, shopping centers, or sports venues.

Professor Nixon’s group is well known for its pioneering role in the development of new biometrics: “We started out by realizing that people could be recognized by their faces and then by their gait — the way that they walk,” said Mark Nixon. “Now we are finding that we can break that down further into the exact components that provide most recognition; in our gait research we are finding that it’s not always the parts that move that provide us with the most information.”

Bang goes the Theory aims to bring science to a mainstream family audience in the heart of the peak-time schedule.