Biometric bouncer

A Russian biometric data-controlled turnstile can allow or deny access based on a rapid 3D infrared scan of users’ faces.

The security system, developed by specialists of the Scientific Production Association’s Information branch, was awarded the Best Innovation title at the 12th International Guarding, Security and Fire Protection Exhibition in Moscow. In one and a half seconds, the turnstile can create and analyse a scanned image and take a decision to allow or to prohibit entrance.

The device looks like a traditional “three-fingered” turnstile as used in public transport stations and sports arenas, but equipped with a small screen. A series of parallel infrared rays are aimed at a person’s face as they approach. An infrared camera records the unique way the light bends around the face and transmits the image to a PC. The PC then builds a precise 3D image from the contours, identifies it by comparing with a database and opens or closes the turnstile. It can simultaneously perform additional tasks, for example recording an employee’s arrival or departure time.

To avoid the system being misled by the shape of the face altering due to weight change or ageing, the researchers use control points on the face which seldom change. There are a total of 60, which include the bridge of nose and corners of the eyes. The control points were first identified by the Russian anthropologist Gerasimov, who proposed a way to reconstruct the outline of faces by the shape of skull.

The manufacturers estimate the system has a failure rate of one in 10,000 when it could allow an intruder through who has the same biometric portrait as an authorised person. Conversely, in every few hundred cases an authorised person could be required to wait for a repeat scan.

Although imperfect, the manufacturers stress that the system is far more secure than an unprotected barrier or one that relies on a magnetic key card that could be passed from person to person.