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NIST issues new publication on PIV cards, adds standards for iris, fingerprint comparison


As promised, NIST has delivered a new publication for Personal Identity Verification cards that now adds iris images and on-card fingerprint comparison as options for compliant cards.

Reported previously, during a tense congressional subcommittee hearing last month, Charles Romine, the director of the NIST Information Technology Laboratory promised a standard for iris images in federal identity cards, as the committee chair was adamant NIST be held to account for this new standard, which had been promised in the past.

The new publication, Biometric Data Specifications for Personal Identity Verification (Special Publications 800-76-2) is now available from NIST.

New specifications for on-card fingerprint comparison describe how to place one or two compact fingerprint templates and a recognition algorithm on the card.

In addition, NIST has added standardized compact images of one or both irises, and also provide performance specifications for iris biometrics as well as specifications for iris cameras.

“NIST research supports the users of these biometric technologies through its ongoing quantitative research activities,” Biometric Testing Project Leader Patrick Grother said. “After applying standard compression algorithms to a large number of iris images and then using these compact images with state-of-the-art recognition algorithms, NIST researchers determined that an iris image compressed to 3KB provides enough detail to accurately recognize an individual’s iris.”

“This collaboration with industry and the standards community led to the ISO/IEC 19794-6 iris standard published in late 2011. The iris standard can support PIV authentication and other uses, such as e-passports,” Grother said. “More importantly, the iris standard ensures that the iris data is interoperable, that is, it can be exchanged easily between cameras and readers from different makers and across the world.”

NIST has also been working on understanding iris deterioration, and in a recent test, found no significant deterioration over a decade. Also, NIST is collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security on a camera certification process to define a repeatable optical laboratory test of a camera’s peak imaging capability.

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