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US moves ahead with long-distance biometric ID seemingly without competition

Categories Biometric R&D  |  Biometrics News  |  Surveillance
US moves ahead with long-distance biometric ID seemingly without competition

The world’s most public military program to develop whole-body biometric surveillance at a distance outdoors continues. U.S. military, national security and academic researchers involved in the Briar program are pushing technological bounds in the open.

It can safely be assumed that other nations, notably China, are working to master and combine the many disciplines involved in the endeavor, but quietly.

Briar is an acronym for the Biometric Recognition and Identification at Altitude and Range program, and it has already recruited 900 volunteers, according to the communications association, Afcea International.

Little research on whole-body recognition and surveillance over long distances has been published, no doubt due to the concept’s complexity. Pieces of the goal have been researched individually, however. A set of contracts under the program were revealed earlier this year.

For example, the U.S. state of Alabama has parceled federal grants to small businesses, one of which is Polaris Sensor Technologies, according to the Huntsville Business Journal. The firm is developing algorithms capable of facial recognition, regardless of the hour from up to 1,600 feet (500 meters).

Briar was first noted by the government in a 2019 request for information. It eventually was funded for four years in three phases.

If successful, and based on media reports it so far is, the government soon will be using whole-body recognition algorithms to identify someone outdoors, somewhat regardless of weather and lighting, from at least 1,000 feet (300 meters) by ground systems as well as those on a “watchtower” or an airborne drone.

Whole body includes facial and gait recognition and body proportions. Volunteers are being recruited to be subjects in various poses for the project and a resulting new dataset. Among the government’s goals is recognizing subjects in near real-time video feeds.

The schools and businesses that the federal government’s National Intelligence’s Office chose to carry out Briar’s research are many and stretched across the continent. The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity agency is directly managing the program.

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