Face biometrics roll out for retail, airports and edge as players work to refine the technology
Facial recognition is the common theme of the week’s top digital identity news with retail applications, new edge servers, and biometric border control deployments around the world. A new software partnership on biometric cryptography has also been announced, a report shows the importance of selfie biometrics in fraud reduction published, and the industry, as well as society more broadly, continues to contend with the issue of algorithmic bias. ID4Africa’s online event last week and the latest iPhone rumors also made headlines.
Facial recognition used for retail security in convenience stores is expanding with VSBLTY technology in Mexico, and has a happy Facewatch customer in the UK, while biometrics are being used for payments in a Singaporean store, ahead of a possible wider rollout. Retail facial recognition rules are becoming stricter in New York, meanwhile.
At the other end of the biometrics spectrum, the increasingly long-awaited return of Touch ID fingerprint biometrics to the iPhone may come to the power button of a lower-cost device, before being released in the form of an in-display sensor next year. The latter, higher end-device is expected to retain Face ID biometrics.
Last week’s three-day event from ID4Africa contained many case studies, insights, and thoughtful discussions between digital ID vendors and others in the community, but also yielded the stunning report that Integrated Biometrics LES fingerprint sensors may automatically self-disinfect against COVID-19 with every print capture.
The ‘Marathon of Innovations’ focused in significant part on how to replicate digital ID successes achieved so far in Africa elsewhere on the continent on the first day and deployment models, including the mass-scale rollout of Aadhaar and mobile digital possibilities, on day two.
Nigeria’s government is attempting to link SIM card registrations and National Identity Numbers, as part of an overarching identity data consolidation plan. Many of the 200 million mobile phone accounts are presumably not linked to the 41.5 million NINs, but the deadline is only weeks away.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reviews the litany of allegations against Semlex in Africa, and the high-profile leadership of its founder in an extensive article. The company is under investigation in Belgium, but details have not been made public.
Organizations are increasingly turning to anthropology to determine how their projects and products will impact people’s lives, Yoti Head of Social Purpose Ken Banks writes in an article for Good ID. He touches on the company’s Fellowship Programme and Yoti Keys for offline digital identity, and proposes that there is still a limit to how remote effective problem-solving can be.
A vision for scaling digital identity through multi-stakeholder involvement, robust data-sharing and standardization is presented in a Predict article by Sarah Wong. Such a system would need to incorporate protections in the form of transparency and decentralization, and could provide a moat for tech platforms and “super-apps.”
Zwipe CEO André Løvestam notes in an interview that his company is expecting to add four more employees over the first quarter of 2021, as it scales up to meet demand for biometric payment cards. Elsewhere in biometric smart cards, Smartmetric is introducing cryptocurrency key storage technology to its payment cards.
Remark Holdings has launched a pair of new KanKan AI edge servers that can power facial recognition for up to eight video streams. The new S and T Series Smart Boxes are designed for smaller-business applications in industries like retail, education, and hospitality.
Among a number of airport and border biometrics announcements, Iceland has selected Idemia to implement the EU EES system, and three new airports have implemented CBP’s Simplified Arrival, while Saudi Arabia is opting for iris recognition. NEC also addressed its new partnership to provide facial recognition to Star Alliance airlines, and SITA has been recognized by Frost & Sullivan for its innovation and growth in the APAC region.
Infinity Optics and Rank One have struck a deal to integrate the latter’s facial recognition algorithms with the former’s ‘True Biometric Hash’ solution, QuantumCrypt. Infinity also says it is working with partners to develop more advanced verification capabilities based on zero-trust principles to bring its technology to the enterprise, healthcare, fintech and government markets.
Jumio’s 2020 Holiday New Account Fraud Report looks specifically at fraud related to biometric selfies, and finds the technology is much more effective at catching fraud than ID document-only checks, in part due to the ‘chilling effect’ it has on fraud attempts. The company’s VP Of Global Marketing Dean Nicolls tells Biometric Update that while the company’s customers that opt for uploaded images can apply “light” liveness, utilizing the end-user’s camera yields the lowest rate of fraud.
It is not necessarily the case that improvements in technology will remove demographic disparities commonly called bias in face biometrics and other AI algorithms, according to researchers. An AI ethics program has been launched by the UK’s Cambridge University to try to address the problem, and Jumio CEO Robert Prigge says companies must make progress, or at least show their work, or get left behind.
The fallout continues from Google’s dismissal of Timnit Gebru from the Ethical AI team co-leader position (or resignation, if the company is correct), and Brookings’ Rubenstein Fellow for Governance Studies Alex Engler writes in a blog post that the move is typical of big tech’s lack of accountability. Studying AI systems from the outside is notoriously difficult, Engler argues, using the example of attempts to study radicalization through YouTube. Google has also lost a prominent privacy expert from its Toronto Smart City project before its ultimate demise, and canceled a planned AI ethics council in 2018.
Team members are asking for her reinstatement, NPR reports, and more than 2,600 employees of the company have signed an open letter requesting a full explanation of what happened.
Digital health credentials for COVID-19 vaccination records have gone from hot-button to urgent topic, and one that will remain with us for some time, according to The New York Times’ examination. Historically, public health protection has been linked with discrimination, The Times notes, referring to Trulioo COO Zac Cohen’s recent guest post for Biometric Update. Cohen is also on Business in Vancouver’s list of ‘Forty Under 40’ outstanding professionals for 2020. He tells the magazine that launching a second entrepreneurial venture shortly after the firsts’ spectacular failure has been his toughest decision.
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