You can run, but you cannot hide – even in the dark – thanks to research being done at West Virginia University.

The Center for Identification Technology Research at WVU’s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources has received a $50,000 award from the Office of Naval Research for a project entitled “Ascertaining Identity within Human Networks in Night Environment.”

“This award will increase WVU researchers’ capabilities of human recognition in challenging environments,” said Bojan Cukic, principal investigator and director of CITeR. “It will enable acquisition of new imaging equipment, create assistantship opportunities for a number of undergraduate and graduate students and further promote the role of WVU as one of the leaders in biometrics research.”

Face recognition technology is severely hindered when the human face is blocked by sunglasses, or obstructed by tinted and reflective coated windows. In this project, researchers will address the limitations of current biometric technologies. The main goal of this project is to design a new generation of effective face and eye detection techniques that can lead to recognition of images of partially concealed faces in a wide range of operational conditions, such as in darkness.

“Human identification in difficult environments is necessary for national security and law enforcement,” noted Cukic. “This technology, once developed and properly implemented, will help identify those trying to avoid apprehension by concealing their appearance.”

The team, currently in phase one, will use special multispectral cameras to perform data collection, materials characterization and a study on the capability to see through tinted glass of various types. Upon successful completion of this phase, they will move to the second and third project phase, where the expectations will be to extend data collection and quality assessment, design algorithms for eye detection and face recognition and evaluate performance of the detection and recognition tools developed.

The research team is being led by Thirimachos Bourlai, a research assistant professor in CEMRs’ Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Other research team members include professors Lawrence Hornak and Cukic; Associate Professor Arun Ross; Research Assistant Professor Jeremy Dawson; and Research Assistants Nathan Kalka, Cameron Whitelam and Nnamdi Osia.

CITeR is a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. Its mission to advance identification technology is strongly focused in the areas of biometric systems and credibility assessment. CITeR achieves this mission through cross-cutting research of emerging technologies, interdisciplinary training of scientists and engineers and facilitation of technology transfer to the private and government sectors through its affiliates.

West Virginia University is the Center’s founding and lead I/UCRC site focusing on biometrics and related identification technology and systems.



CONTACT: Mary Dillon, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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