New biometric gait recognition research conducted in U.K.

September 25, 2012 - 

When iris scans and facial recognition fail to identify individuals from a distance, then it is time to add on gait recognition, a system that identifies an individual based on a “signature” walk.

New gait technology is being developed by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the United Kingdom, in collaboration with the Center for Advanced Software Technology (CAST), the BBC and BAE Systems.

NPL used CCTV images from its building to record a person’s specific walk. The silhouette of a person was extracted from the background and using this, the patterns were recorded in order to identify the person.

But NPL is not the only organization that is conducting gait recognition research. Similar research is being conducted by Professor Martin Hoffman at the Technical University of Munich and Professor Daigo Muramatsu at Osaka University.

Gait recognition can be applied for commercial use or law enforcement applications, such as identifying robbers or terrorists who cover their faces. It can also improve security in high-security environments such as airports.

Nick Pickles, Director of UK’s Big Brother Watch, aired concerns about intrusion of privacy, noting the surveillance potential of gait technology.

He told RT that: “This technology poses a real threat to privacy and in the coming years it will be used for marketing purposes as well as supposed public safety. Personal data goes far beyond writing down your name and address now and the law urgently needs revising to reflect this.”

In addition, he said: “Rather than finding new ways to identify innocent people, we should be asking why mass surveillance has failed to make people any safer.”

Do you agree with Pickles’ assertion that mass surveillance has failed? Or do you think gait technology can increase security?

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About T'ash Spenser

T’ash Spencer writes full time for She has 15 years experience in the field of regional planning and earned her Master’s of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management from the University of Dortmund, Germany. Follow her @tashspencer1.