The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 requires that the Visa Waiver Program be available only to countries that have a program to issue to their nationals machine-readable passports incorporating biometric identifiers complying with applicable standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In June 2002, the New Technologies Working Group of ICAO unanimously endorsed the use of face recognition (FR) as the globally interoperable biometric for machine-assisted identity confirmation with machine-readable travel documents (MRTDs), although Member States may elect to use fingerprint and/or iris recognition as additional biometric technologies. The means and formats are still being developed through which biometric information might be stored in the constrained space of integrated circuit chips embedded within travel documents. Such information will be stored in an open, yet unalterable and very compact format, probably as digitally signed and efficiently compressed images.
The objective of this research is to characterize the many factors that affect FR system performance with respect to the legislated mandates concerning FR. A photograph acquisition environment and a commercial face recognition system have been installed at Mitretek, and over 1,400 images have been collected of volunteers.
The image database and FR system are being used to analyze the effects of lossy image compression, individual differences, such as eyeglasses and facial hair, and the acquisition environment on FR system performance. Images are compressed by varying ratios using JPEG2000 to determine the trade-off points between recognition accuracy and compression ratio. The various acquisition factors that contribute to differences in FR system performance among individuals are also being measured. The results of this study will be used to refine and test efficient face image interchange standards that ensure highly accurate recognition, both for automated FR systems and human inspectors. Working within the M1-Biometrics Technical Committee of the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) organization, a standard face image format will be tested and submitted to organizations such as ICAO.