U.S. military considering upgrading biometric identification technologies

October 12, 2015 - 

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are considering upgrading biometric technologies to enable military officials to better identify individuals both up close and far away, according to a report by Ars Technica.

The Marine Corps Systems Command recently unveiled details about the Identity Dominance System (IDS) 2 program, in which it is seeking potential vendors of portable systems that can collect various biometrics, including voice and gait recognition and DNA samples.

Using these so-called tactical biometric technologies, military forces in the field would be able to create more comprehensive profiles to effectively track every individual they encounter.

Since 2007, the U.S. military has been using biometric tools in Afghanistan to identify and track every single resident they encounter in order to prevent the Taliban and other terrorists from going undetected among civilians.

The equipment being used by troops in the field eventually became “programs of record,” or in other words, established procurement programs with their own management offices.

The Army labelled the system the Biometrics Automated Toolset-Army (BAT-A), while the Navy and Marine Corps named their systems the AN/PYX-1 IDS.

Built using off-the-shelf technology, the biometric identification systems allow U.S. military to record fingerprints, iris images, facial images, as well as biographical data and additional imagery including “name, age, height, weight, birthplace, nationality, scars, marks, and tattoos,” according to Marine Corps documents.

Additionally, the system is able to collect digital data from individuals’ cellphones and other devices and tag all the collected data with metadata about the situation during which the information was collected.

The current IDS is based on two pieces of hardware. The first is CrossMatch’s (www.crossmatch.com) Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit (SEEK-II), which includes a built-in fingerprint scanner, digital camera and iris scanner, as well as an internal database containing up to 60,00 biometric profiles.

The second is a Dell M4800 laptop, which features biometric software and a wireless connection to the DoD network.

The laptop is used to retrieve data from the SEEK II and update the device with profiles from the DoD Biometrically Enabled Watchlist (BEWL), which is a DoD-run database that contains both facial and fingerprint information about individuals of interest.

The laptop is also used to collect data from the individual’s cellphone and other personal digital devices.

Another version of IDS comprises of the laptop and multiple capture devices, including CrossMatch’s Guardian R2 Ten-print scanner, the CrossMatch I SCAN 2 iris scanner, and the Logitech C920 digital camera.

For the new system, Marine Corps Systems Command is seeking several new biometric collection capabilities.

Some of these features could potentially be used to detect individuals at a distance, while other features will be required to identify people up close.

“The collector should be able to collect additional modalities that may be used for matching in future operations,” according to the Marine Corps RFI. “Additional modalities include, but are not limited to, palm print, vascular, DNA, voice, gait, and hand geometry.”

The Marine Corps is also seeking a system that has a larger storage capacity and is able to collect data more rapidly.

Additionally, the Marines are looking to collect facial, voice, and gait recognition data at a greater distance, as well as in a covert manner. To achieve this, they are looking for a biometrics system that is lighter, more compact, and has a longer battery life.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.