A West Virginia University researcher has co-authored a book on multibiometrics, a rapidly emerging area of research that may help protect Americans from real and present dangers such as identity theft and international terrorism.

The Handbook of Multibiometricsco-authored by Arun Ross, an assistant professor in WVU ’s Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, and Michigan State University researchers Anil Jain and Karthik Nandakumarwill be released by Springer in May 2006.

Biometrics is the science of establishing human identity based on an individual’s physical or behavioral traits. Ever since the inception of the FBI ’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System in the 1960s, research in this field continues to grow. Investigation into facial, voice, iris and hand geometry traits has furthered the development of automated and semi-automated biometric identification systems.

Biometric systems are in place in venues as diverse as grocery stores, Disney World and U.S. border crossings, Ross noted. And, as concerns about identity theft and identity fraud become paramount, the demand for these systems is sure to continue to rise.

Most systems have relied on a single biometric trait, such as a fingerprint, a hand print or an iris scan to establish identity, he said.This reliance on a single trait poses certain limitations on the integrity and scalability of the systems.

As more and more users are enrolled into a system, it becomes difficult to rely on one trait to accurately identify those users,Ross said,hence the need for multibiometrics. Multibiometrics involves consolidating the evidence presented by multiple biometric traits of an individual, such as face and fingerprint, face and iris, etc.”

Multibiometrics also helps deter what Ross refers to asspoofing,or efforts to pass off artificial traits as real ones, since it is difficult for an impostor to spoof multiple biometric traits. It can therefore enhance the degree of confidence and decreases errors in an identification system.

The Handbook of Multibiometrics is one of the first books to be published in this emerging area of research.

It is important that we understand the scientific nature of this new field, and, at the same time, the challenges it brings,Ross said.The goal of this book was to define a structure that would consolidate all the work that has been done in the field so far. Our hope is that other researchers will find this structure useful to conduct novel work in the exciting field of biometric fusion.

WVU is a national leader in biometrics, offering the nation’s first and only undergraduate degree in biometric systems, and serving as home to the Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR), a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center and the first comprehensive academic center for biometrics.