It’s dark. You know someone’s out there. But the age-old question remains: Friend or foe?

Researchers at West Virginia University are working to help answer that question safely by developing technology that gives night vision a whole new meaning – focusing on facial recognition and gait to identify that person wandering around in the dark.

“Automated facial recognition at a long distance and under both night and bright daylight environments is critical to fixing the identity of individuals who may pose a potential threat,” said Nathan Kalka, a doctoral student in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, and a member of the Center for Identification Technology Research’s Night Biometrics Team.

Other research is focusing on evaluating a person’s gait.

“We illuminate the person at wavelengths both undetectable by and safe to the human eye,” said fellow doctoral student Brian DeCann. “From the video of their movement, we evaluate the shape characteristics one displays while walking.

“Such a capability has potential for acquiring biometric traits from individuals at a distance when traditional biometrics such as face and iris are unavailable,” DeCann said.

Kalka and DeCann recently tested their work and that of fellow doctoral student Francesco Nicolo and research assistant professor Thirimachos Bourlai at Empire Challenge 2010, at Fort Huachuca, AZ. The Challenge, sponsored by the United States Joint Forces Command, allows participants to field test new operational technologies emerging from research in support of US and allied fighters.

Their work, funded under an Office of Naval Research award, was integrated into ONR’s Green Devil II initiative, a combination of several emerging ONR and various Marine Corps Programs of Record capabilities.

“The opportunity to participate in Green Devill II gave our team a wealth of experience with the real operational environments within which our biometrics research will have impact,” said Larry Hornak, professor in the Lane Department, ONR project lead and CITeR’s founding director. “Based on our GDII experience we look forward to advancing our research in biometrics for challenging environments in support of meeting national defense needs.”

The Night Biometrics Team also includes faculty Donald Adjeroh, Bojan Cukic, Jeremy Dawson, Xin Li, Arun Ross, and Natalia Schmid, and students in the Lane Department.

CITeR is a National Science Foundation multi-university Industry/University Cooperative Research Center with sites at WVU and the University of Arizona each with the collaborative participation of multiple universities. In cooperation with more than 20 industry and government affiliates, the Center maintains a dynamic shared research portfolio that comprehensively addresses research challenges in biometric systems.



CONTACT: Nicole Riggleman; College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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