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IHF Roundup: Airports Ponder Universal Access Control, Researchers Design 'Wearable' Robots & Other Top Headlines This Week

Here's a quick rundown of the headlines that caught my eye this week (click on the links to check out the articles in full):

Airport credentials: What's going to happen?
Zack Martin
  • How airports identify employees has been a concern since 9/11 and other incidents have shown that there are potential security vulnerabilities. The Transportation Security Administration is working on a specification for airport access control systems that would use biometrics and smart cards. The specification calls for an interoperable credential that could be read at airports throughout the country.
  • The incident pointed to most often when it comes to better securing credentials at airports is an incident at O’Hare International Airport in 2007. In that case, 23 employees from a staff-outsourcing firm were using ID cards from employees who had quit.
  • There are already a number of different projects running -- The TSA has the Airport Credential Interoperability Specification (ACIS) and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) created the Biometric Airport Security Identification Consortium (BASIC). The AAAE is working with the TSA on its efforts. Too many acronyms if you ask me.
Wearable bot said to make you stronger
CNET (Crave Blog)
Leslie Katz
  • Through a sensor attached to the skin, "HAL" (Hybrid Assistive Limb) captures faint biosignals on the skin's surface that result from messages sent from the brain to muscles when a person attempts to move. A computer analyzes how much power the wearer intends to generate, then calculates the amount of torque needed to put limbs into action.
  • Especially noteworthy here is that the suit responds to intended motion, rather than actual motion.
  • "HAL" is currently being used by people in Japan with weakened muscles and disabilities related to strokes and/or spinal cord injuries. It's also expected to report for heavy-labor duty support at factories, as well as rescue support at disaster sites.
  • Do they come in different colors and/or patterns?
Noise from our ears a basis for biometrics
Chris Jablonski
  • The concept is based on otoacoustic emissions (OAE), which are sounds emitted by the mammalian inner ear in response to an audio stimulation.
  • According to the researchers, OAEs offer some unique opportunities when applied as a biometric system. For one, it can be embodied as a telephone handset or headphones, which is something everyone is familiar with. And secondly, it can be employed in a challenge-response dialogue.
  • However, watch out for waxy build-up and BAC level after a night out on the town -- with both, emissions are deadened. Also, different drugs alter the amplitude of OAEs.
How Kiva Robots Help Zappos and Walgreens
Jessie Scanlon
  • Robots have been around a long time, but what's interesting about Kiva, which has four patents, with another 14 pending, is the way in which Kiva Founder and CEO Mick Mountz's team has integrated three technologies: WiFi, digital cameras, and low-cost servers capable of parallel processing.
  • The servers work in real-time, receiving orders, immediately dispatching robots to bring the required pods to the worker fulfilling the order, and then returning the pods to their storage locations. The robots receive their orders wirelessly, while using cameras to read navigational barcode stickers on the warehouse floor.
  • Roughly 20% of the 8,000 commercial U.S. warehouses are automated, including Walgreens and Zappos, meaning that after workers pull goods off of the shelves, they are put on conveyer belts, carousels, and/or other automatic sorting systems that move the products through the warehouse more efficiently.
Alaska introduces bill protecting citizens’ biometric data
  • Alaskan state senator, Bill Wielechowski, has introduced a bill to the state congress that intends to protect Alaskan citizens from having their biometric information collected or used without their knowing and consent.
  • The congressman’s hope is that the bill will assuage fears over the misuse of biometric information such as potential employers using DNA samples to determine one’s tendency towards certain ailments or the tracking of citizens via facial recognition and video surveillance.
Cameras, sensors spark government surveillance debate
Democrat & Chronicle
Brian Sharp
  • The Rochester (NY) Police Department's reliance on data-crunching computers and license-plate reading scanners triggered a backlash this week from a citizens group called Activists Against Racism Movement.
  • In a statement to the media, the group labeled the targeted enforcement a "dragnet" and "absolutely racist in nature," predicting that it will predominately snare minorities for minor offenses.
  • Doubt remains about whether the technology actually prevents crime, or just relocates it. People do tend to feel safer, experts say. Witnesses are more likely to cooperate with police if they think a camera also caught the action, and so property crime declines, but research has yet to document a corresponding drop in violent crime.
Plus, don't forget to scroll down and check out 3VR's anouncement around our technology's performance in recent South Korea NPA/SK Networks facial recognition technology testing. More details coming soon.

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