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Moving Beyond Passwords With Fingerprint Technology

When the Samsung Galaxy S5 is released on April 11, users will be able to use their fingerprint to securely login in and shop at companies that use PayPal. All it takes is a simple finger swipe. 

PayPal’s app can also be used to pay for products in some physical stores. 

PayPal does not store personal information on the device. Instead, the FIDO Ready™ software on the device securely communicates between the fingerprint sensor on the device and PayPal’s service in the cloud. The only information the device shares with PayPal is a unique encrypted key that allows PayPal to verify the identity of the customer without having to store any biometric information on PayPal’s servers.

The iPhone 5 already lets users unlock their devices with their fingerprint and pay for purchases in iTunes.

These new biometric features moves us beyond passwords and towards the inevitable proliferation of fingerprint authentication technology.


Facial Recognition is the Next Big Thing in Egg Donation

Circle Egg Donation is the most recent egg donation agency to begin offering advanced facial recognition software to help intended parents in finding the right egg donor. The program allows intended parents to select egg donors who most resemble their physical looks.

Here's how it works: Based on a photo the intended parent provides to Circle Egg Donation, the 3D software from Precision Donor™ constructs a virtual topographical map of facial features. That map is compared to all of Circle’s registered egg donors, yielding results of best matches for resemblance to the parent. Precision Donor’s software is similar to that used by the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security—reportedly, it’s that accurate and secure.

Once an intended parent finds a match, the software immediately erases all identifying information, including photos, from the database in an effort to protect user’s privacy. All that remains is an algorithm, which is compared with egg donors in the database to find the closest matches.

Not surprisingly, now a similar program is being used at sperm donation agencies. We love the fact that in today's age of facial rec apps, websites, interactive signage and other relative frivolity, software like that used at Circle Egg Donation is actually helping people build families.


A Breathalyzer for Diseases

Credit: ToshibaToshiba has developed a prototype breath analyzer that can detect a wide range of trace gases in exhaled breath. It has the potential to diagnose diseases and monitor health.

For example, the presence of acetone may indicate diabetes, while methane provides clues as to the condition of the intestinal environment.

Toshiba will partner with Waseda University to study the clinical measurements of acetone concentrations in exhaled breath and to correlate the results with fat metabolism, an approach that may advance understanding of how to develop diets and food supplements.

The detectection of other gases, including isotopes of carbon dioxide, will be available in 2015.


Furry Facial Recognition? New App IDs Missing Cats and Dogs

With facial recognition technology popping up everywhere, it was only a matter of time until someone applied it to our pets.

A new iPhone app called PiP (or, Positive Identification of Pet) is designed to help owners find their missing cats and dogs more easily. When Fluffy goes missing, the owner can upload a photo of him to the app. The software runs a facial recognition search against a database of pets that have recently been found in the area.

Meanwhile, the owner can issue an "Amber Alert" to local veterinarians, rescue agencies and other organizations to ask them to keep a lookout for Fluffy. The Amber Alert can also be extended to Twitter and Craigslist to get other people in the area involved.

According to the Daily Mail, the Humane Society says that about 4 million animals are reported missing every year in the U.S. Worse still, only about 15 percent of dogs without microchips are ever found by their owners. Although the PiP app isn't the ideal solution -- mainly, because it depends upon someone finding your pet, knowing about the app and actually taking the time to upload the animal's photo -- it could certainly be helpful for many. And we love the idea of furry facial recognition for any pet whose owner thinks of as part of the family.


Facebook is Nearing 'Human-Level Performance' in Face Verification

Image credit: FacebookFriends, Facebook has just taken facial recognition to a whole new level.

Through its overly-creepy-sounding project "DeepFace," Facebook has been exploring ways in which to improve its facial recognition software -- all the way to the point of "human-level performance." How? The new software maps a person's facial features in 3-D, then turns them into a flat model. The results are then filtered by color to highlight specific facial elements, such as nose or brow shape.

According to Facebook, their approach is 97.25 percent accurate, which is very close to human accuracy levels. In fact, there are only a few factors keeping software from exceeding human facial verification accuracy, including lighting, expression, pose and image quality. However, with enough time perhaps Facebook's DeepFace team can overcome even those.

For now, Facebook users won't be impacted by the new software. First, it's heading to the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in June to be vetted by other researchers, then it will probably have to face the music with privacy advocates. How exactly will Facebook then use the software? We're not entirely sure, but it's probably safe to assume that facial recognition this powerful probably won't be used only for tagging people in uploaded photos.

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