Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Big companies towards biometrics: Facebook acquires Face.com

Facebook has announced its acquisition of Israeli facial recognition technology Face.com
Face Recognition
Last updates report that the price was between $55 and $60 million, in a mix of stock and cash. Thanks to this acquisition Facebook will have the possibility to finally include and improve mobile tagging for photos leveraging on biometrics technologies.
Face.com was funded five years ago and it is specialized in mobile facial recogition. Its technlogy could  allow users to upload photos to their Facebook profile on the go, instantly receive suggestions of whom to tag, and confirm the tags with one click.
The importance of this is related to the traffic on Facebook. By increasing the number of tags through mobile tagging Facebook will increase the engagement of users: once a user receives the notification that he has been tagged in a photo, he will probably go to Facebook and check it, incresing the number of visits and the traffic on the site.
It is clear that, after the $1 billion Instagram acquisition, Facebook is targeting mobile photos and the network of users which share them, creating a complete platform to win in the market of mobile photos.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Personal biometrics at home? Microscope out of photocamera

Here we are. We connect 400 mm lens with a reversed 17mm lens. Fix a flashlight to the lens. It will play the role of the object table with light.

Your hair should look like this with this device.

After that I foresee the usual struggle between two religions - Canon and Nikon. Not sure who goes to win, but since Canon's lenses are cheaper, then Canon's owners have greater chances to have more material to boast.

Biometrics? Did you think when it can fail? 

Have an idea what happened to this person?  Can you guess his profession?

It seems to me that biometrics can really fail from time to time… To give a hint, this person have something similar with the women in Southern countries where many of them have nice bodies because of the climate, way of life and nutrition, but have comparably bad facial skin because of the sun.

And this raises questions about ability of the biometric facial recognition systems to keep high percentage of successful recognition cases.  This means that still from time to time the system has to be loaded with updated original biometrics criteria. EER, Equal Error Rates – this is the measurement for fails to recognize the application.

… By the way the man has worked 28 years as truck driver.

The initial idea and the photo are taken from http://dimka-jd.livejournal.com/1748804.html#cutid1

My personal bio rhythms, sleep patterns and fragmented sleep time

My peers are inside MBA routine. And most of us need to split our time (that is not extendable – Oh God – only 24 hours per day) into studies, sleep and partying networking. And according to previous intakes usually a student can do only two out of these three.

I tried several ways of sleeping less and tried several ways to adapt my sleeping patterns to my MBA rhythm.  For instance, going to sleep earlier yesterday so that to wake up at 3 am today. Pros: higher concentration, same 5-6 hours of night sleep, more balanced sleep time between sundown and sunrise, none calling or whatsapping you, you start your sleep yesterday and not today.

Of course this is just one case out of other considerations on how to sleep less or how to sleep more optimally. I needed to go further to explore some assisting techniques and devices.

My strategy 1

Back in Russia I used a light alarm-clock that gradually ignites a powerful lamp next to your bad and launches some sounds of nature. In Russia, where winter nights are long and where I drive to work and back home in the dark, this works well. But here in Spain this does not really contribute to my perfect sleep as I have enough natural sun.

My strategy 2

I also tried so-called positive way of thinking (my peers may remember how I referenced to Napoleon Hill). Apart from Hill, there are books of Luiza Hey if I correctly recall the author’s name. The whole concept is concentrated on positive thinking, doing morning exercises and similar activities. In total this complex can save you around 2 hours of sleep per day (due to the fact that you use sleep to refresh and not to cure the stress you gained during the last day. By the way, I do not recommend to rush following Hill blindly – first read the abovementioned authors – they are rather inspiring [probably not like me here]. But their recommendations really work for me and a bunch of my friends . Maybe not 2 hours, but still an hour is ok. 2 hrs*365 days=730 hrs. 730hrs/24hrs per day = 30,41 days won per year!!!

My strategy 3

 Approximately a year ago I found that there is an alarm-clock that measures your phases of the sleep and wakes you when you are in a non-deep sleep. This should work for me, but I’m still greedy enough to spend around 300 EUR for the gadget.

How does it work?

A sensor distinguishes the sleep phases through your body’s movements. Within 30 minutes of the set waking time aXbo wakes us with pleasant waking sounds from an almostawake-moment.

The unique wake-up-algorithm of aXbo chooses the optimal wake up time through differentiating the various sleeping phases by tracking the body movements. It  thus determines the optimal wake up time. Your movements are detected and gathered with a comfortable towelling wristband and submitted to the sleep phase alarm clock.

You set your new aXbo as usual to your wake up time e.g. 7.00 a.m. The best wake up window is 30 minutes; e.g. you might be woken up at 6.47 a.m.-your optimal wake up time. Thus aXbo even gives you a little extra time.

Seems to me that business schools could have a wholesale contract with the company producing aXbo and make a present to the students in the opening ceremony day like we had in Segovia.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Do you want to go to the cinema tonight?

Can you imagine the day when going to the cinema, watching television or by browsing the web your consumer behaviour can be tracked, analysed and your future behaviour influenced?

There are already a lot of thoughts put into practice by web advertising companies to study your behaviour when you are browsing a webpage or using an application. Particular designs and patterns are developed to make visitors respond in particular ways.  Companies go to great lenghts to track you and analyse your behaviour, trying to get inside your head before you even know it. 

Earlier this year Time Warner opened a state of the art behaviour lab to study people’s emotions and reaction to a wide range of media platforms and mobile devices. MediaLab tracks emotion via biometric monitoring, eye tracking, blood pressure, heart rate and respiration to understand human’s emotions.

The lab is built on a neuroscience research done by Innerscope Search: “after being exposed to stimulus, a person unconciously experiences emotions before thoughts, feelings or actions.“ 

"The Medialab's cutting-edge technologies and the breadth of its research capabilities will give our businesses and ad partners an unmatched ability to look inside the mind of the consumer as we develop even more engaging content," stated Jeff Bewkes, Chairman and CEO Time Warner Inc.
The Time Warner's Medialab has the ability to utilize its research capabilities within live programing, CNN has already taken advantage of Warner’s research center.

… and whether you like it or not, monitoring your biometrics is here to stay. You may think it's cool or creepy, analyzing your biometrics are the new ways to track you and get inside your head.

Monday, May 28, 2012

BioTime. Work time registering and ERP

Usually Russia does not promote itself too much on the world arena and limited news is available on local technical advancements.  Luckily for me I found a list of ways of application of Biometrics technologies in my homeland country.  

Nowdays presence of such technologies does not mean that any country is champion in innovation as it is not a complicated process to order and to buy. Nowdays Biometrics is already in use in many African countries which overall economic development is questionable. So let me use Russia as an example how biometrics can be used in standard city life.

Of course such an intro is not about any kind of technological leadership. Technologies are delivered by world’s leaders and their structure of ownership is not always transparent. The countries which apply modern technologies just need to reserve some amounts in their budgets. So my example of Russia serves here as a base for explanation of another application of Biometrics.

During 2012 several Russian companies reported on successful application or optimization of human resource management systems in different regions of Russia including clinics. The common idea comes from application of biometrics technologies integrated in the HR-module of the ERP system. Let’s take the example of Anturium clinic located in Altai region of Russia.

Nowdays the employees of the clinic are met by the terminals BioLink FingerPass. Touching the scanner at the terminal the system registers the time of arrival of the employee. The terminals translate the data through the time-registering module BioTime which in its turn generates 13 different reports. The clinic deals with aesthetic surgery and surrogacy which means that apart from registering working hours the system needs to signal if a surgeon stayed too long at work.  

BioTime module facilitates maintenance of the salary and personal taxes module. As an additional advantage, some businesses can back-up their choice to turn to outsourced specialists or correct schedules of employees according to their biorhythms.  By the way, in case one finger is damaged another “reserve” finger can be used for identification. The implementation projects usually have multi finger option for authorization. [The picture below shows an optical scanner for fingers]

The innovation has been supplied by the world’s expert and local leader in biometrics Biolink Technologies. The supply pack from Biolink contains the module of calendar planning to facilitate charts and policies for registering of working time in specific conditions of medical institutions. The module is fully integrated with the ERP what saves time of accountants. The technology is well ahead of the pass-card system as does not allow employees to use someone’s card and the fingerprint is always with us. Project implementation looked like one for implementation of software.

Similar systems for control of time schedules have been installed in Intersport (Sport goods multinational), Motom (Automotive dealer in lower Volga region); in a Suchi-bar in Irkutsk and a retailer.

Please have a look at the link with Biolink commercial that visually explains on how the system works.

Adopted using materials from:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Biometrics and crime prevention – Security vs. Privacy

Everybody is familiar with these images…

Terrorism is a big threat for the Countries all around the world. Since 9/11 there have been continuous improvements in security systems to avoid terrorist attacks. In USA the focus has been shifted from international to domestic threats and from identifying culpable people to preventing them to commit crimes.

Here is where biometrics comes!

In the last years US Department of Homeland Security has been testing and implementing several techniques to detect ‘pre-crime’ indicators. For example the FAST (Future attribute screening technology) is a program able to spot people willing to commit a terrorist act. This system measures: hearth and respiration rates, changes in human voice, eyes movements, facial expressions and body movements.

Another example is the Terahertz Imaging Detection: a new technology to detect guns used by NYPD. It can measure the energy radiating from a body and detect objects (like guns) concealing it.

So… it seems that, thanks to these technologies, in the future we will be safer than ever: crimes will be stopped before damaging anyone and even fear of being pre-detected might block criminals from acting.

But, what about privacy? What about people nervous in the airport simply because they do not like flying? What about the right of walking down a street without being continuously “scanned”?

Does crime prevention have a limit? Are these technologies completely reliable? To combat crime and terrorism, shouldn’t we focus more on the educational side rather than on these methods based on fear and intrusiveness?

Discussion is open…

Saturday, May 12, 2012

BioMetric: Usage in Organizations

Biometric Technology has become a safety lock to all frauds. If we talk of the organizations in developing countries such as India, China, Singapore, there has been great demand for installation of bio metric machines.

Do you know that in India, lot of organizations has implemented the bio metric technology, the details of which are mentioned hereunder:

  1. Punjab National Bank installed its first Biometric at ATM at a village in Gautam Budh Nagar, India. This has helped lot of illiterate and semi-literate people to do banking transaction any time.
  2. Union Bank of India launched Bio Metric Cards. With the help of these cards, lot of small households and traders can avail credit.
Bio Metric Technology is helping organizations not only to secure their data but also used in sophisticated IT applications. Not only in organizations but, Bio Metric technology is also being used by government to verify the authenticity of its citizens. One Such example is India.

Do you know the project named as “AADHAR” is presently in operation and using Bio Metric Technology to facilitate Unique Identification of every citizen in India and issuance of Unique Identification card. Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique number which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will issue for all residents in India. The number will be stored in a centralized database and linked to the basic demographics and biometric information – photograph, ten fingerprints and iris – of each individual.
More details about “AADHAR”?   http://uidai.gov.in/what-is-aadhaar-number.htm

How it works

The following photographs will also be of interest to all of you

Collecting Finger Prints for AADHAR 

Source: www.uidai.gov.in, en.wikipedia.org

Friday, May 4, 2012

Biometrics and Movies

Since movies have played an important part in the popularculture for about 100 years, and they have served as premonitory tools forupcoming technologies, we couldn’t live aside this topic when discussingbiometrics. 

It is quite easy to find examples of movies that appeal tothis technology.   In action films, wefind innumerous scenes where the main character has to break in a highsurveillance facility where access is given only  through voice recognition, iris scanning,fingerprint match etc.  A good way toillustrate how films recreate the difficulties and creativity required to tricksystems that use these technologies is this short episode from the last versionof Charlie’s Angels.

There is no doubt that biometrics is perceived as one of themost secure ways of controlling access.  InMission Impossible III, when Agent Ethan Hung is assigned to a new mission, hisidentity is first validated with an eye scanner installed in a pair of sunglasses. 

However there is one movie in particular that recreates howbiometrics technology can be used for other purposes beyond security.  In Minority Report, Speilberg conceived aworld where personalized advertising is possible using this technology.   Your tastes and consumer behaviours, based onyour historical buying patterns can be saved as data and later processed tohelp companies identify you as consumer target.   In the movie there is a scene where JohnAnderton (Tom Cruise) walks into a mall, where he is recognized through irisscan by animated billboards encouraging him to buy some products.  Follow this link to watch the scene in themall. 

When we watch these futuristic movies, we cannot helpraising the same question from the previous post, are humans willing to give upon privacy for the sake of comfort and technology advances? Or is it no longer achoice, as  "the rightof privacy is a diminishing commodity" which will soon be thrown"right out the window”

 Ian Rothkerch. "Will the future really look like "Minority