Biometric technology – long talked about – is now moving into live airport, border control, and other travel security environments. Heathrow now uses biometrics to measure the efficiency of its checkpoint operations. Last year, JetBlue and US DHS tested a biometric-enabled, self-boarding process at Boston’s Logan Airport. Will 2019 be the year that biometric technology is widely deployed to support better border security, passport control, or aviation security applications?
To help answer that and other questions, DeteCT sat down with Andrew Bud, founder and CEO of iProov. Based in the UK, iProov is a leader in biometric authentication and is working with US DHS through the agency’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program. Before starting iProov, Bud founded mBlox, the world’s largest provider of SMS transmission for enterprise applications, and he chairs MEF, the global trade association of the mobile content and commerce industry.
DeteCT: Andrew, thanks for joining us. Before we get into the initiatives you are working on, give us some background on iProov. How were you started? What makes iProov’s core technology different and better than other biometric solutions?
Andrew Bud: My background as a founder of mBlox, one of the first mobile commerce solution providers, was critical to my subsequent vision for iProov. mBlox taught me that for any kind of online transaction to work, trust is key. You need to be able to trust your counterparties – people or businesses you may never meet in person. As a result of that insight, my vision for iProov was not about a specific technology; It was about creating a massively scalable platform that would allow anyone – people, companies, government agencies – to trust the identity of people they were interacting with online
DeteCT: That was pretty forward thinking given what is going on in the world today in cybersecurity and social media, not to mention homeland security requirements. How does your biometric technology support that vision and what makes it unique?
AB: What makes iProov’s technology powerful is its ability to establish the authentic presence of a real human face during an online interaction. That is important for remote, “self-service” type transactions. Unfortunately, there are bad actors using sophisticated “synthetic video” to create “fake faces” to commit fraud, cyber-terrorism, or spread false information. Our proprietary Flashmark technology combines controlled illumination of faces with machine learning algorithms. It can determine with a very high level of accuracy whether the image of a face you see on a smartphone, tablet, or computer is a genuine human face.
“There has been a 10X performance improvement in
facial biometrics thanks to deep learning and AI technology.”
DeteCT: Can you give some examples of applications for the technology?
AB: In financial services, banks are opening new accounts for users solely with their mobile devices with no human interaction. In that situation, the law says that the bank must trust the identity of the user.
DeteCT: Let’s segue what you are doing with DHS through its Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP). What problems does DHS want to address using your technology?
AB: Let me start by saying that SVIP has done a great job of mobilizing private sector innovation to solve public sector challenges. As an example, there is a remote area called the Northwest Angle on the U.S. border with Canada where people cross the border via snowmobile. The identity of those people needs to be verified, but stationing a lot of US CBP officers there is not necessarily cost efficient. DHS is looking at our technology to help CBP in those types of locations.
DeteCT: What about passport control at airports? That would seem to be another potential application.
AB: Our technology will enable the next generation of e-passport gates. I can also envision using iProov technology to remotely collect secure Advanced Passenger Information and to clear members of a trusted traveler program, such as the US/Canadian NEXUS or US TSA’s Pre-Check. When you combine this kind of technology with advanced checkpoint screening technology such as the Analogic ConneCT system, airports could see a dramatic improvement in security and passenger experience.
DeteCT: That is definitely Analogic’s vision — to create a true checkpoint of the future. Looking at the big picture, what’s your assessment of biometric authentication technology for border security or aviation security. Are we now in the mass-adoption phase?
AB: There’s no doubt that is the case. There are several factors driving this. There has been a 10X performance improvement in facial biometrics thanks to deep learning and AI technology. Recent studies have shown these technologies can have a lower “false acceptance” rate screening passport documents than well-trained human operators. And finally, integration of facial biometrics on smartphones has made consumer acceptance much larger.
DeteCT: Andrew, thanks for those insights. We look forward to seeing your technology in airports alongside the ConneCT checkpoint CT!