Military invests in smart-phone reconnaissance
AOptix signs a $3 million contract with the US Department of Defense to help develop smart phones with Smart Mobile Identity technology, which scans fingerprints and other physical features for identity verification. Biometrics developers say they aren't far from making the technology commercially available.
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“It’s worth noting that even though the military is backing away from foot patrols in warzones, it’s not backing away from biometric data acquisition – far from it,” Mr. Ackerman writes.Skip to next paragraph
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However, faster, portable biometrics would work to the advantage of troops, who often have to act fast in high-pressure environments, Mark Crego, managing director of border and identity services at Accenture Health and Public Services, says in a phone interview.
The military’s data collection efforts could help keep troops safe in war zones and, as a result, make it easier for troops to trust inhabitants in those areas and build relationships with them, Mr. Crego says. If a base scanned the faces or fingerprints of locals (assuming they are open to it), the military would have an easier time weeding out potential suspects and getting to know the people.
“If I am setting up a military base and I cannot trust the people around me … the military base will never be able to integrate with the culture and help out the people around them,” he says. “We will have the ability to identify people and can build a better, trusting relationship between the community and the military.”
Biometrics at your fingertips
SMI technology is being marketed to a variety of other fields, including immigration, banking, health care, and disaster response.
Crego says biometrics can help reduce identity fraud and illegal immigration at many airports and border crossings. In India, the human services officials began scanning fingerprints to keep track of who participates in the food stamps program, in hopes of reducing fake claims.
For the individual, it could make a smart phone a better medium for data storage and banking.
“Biometrics by themselves are not a privacy problem anymore than using your name to get to your bank account,” he says. “The credit bureaus have more information than you’d want anyone to know … Using biometrics systems makes it much more difficult [for someone] to steal my identity.”
The only factor that could inhibit widespread use is the cost, Crego says. Developers have discussed price ranges in biometrics labs, but the specs remain expensive. Chances are, whenever an SMI smart phone hits stores, it will come with a high price tag.