Telecom equipment maker Motorola, Inc. says it plans to embed face recognition technology into Java-enabled mobile phones.
Motorola said the application was being developed specifically for law
enforcement agencies. The Chicago-based company is partnering in the project with Wirehound LLC and Visionics Corp., a maker of identity verification systems for physical and network security.
The announcement, made at the JavaOne Developer Conference in San Francisco,
said the application would use Visionics’ FaceIt ARGUS as the delivery
platform for facial recognition capabilities.
Motorola would also install Wirehound’s Birddog software on the its i95cl
phone, a J2ME technology-enabled mobile phone with a color display.
The FaceIt ARGUS system would automatically find faces in a field of view
and search them against a mug shot database. “Upon finding a match, the
Birddog component generates a wireless alert to the phones used by mobile
law enforcement officials, who are then able to verify the identity of the
subject,” the company said.
Motorola said the cell phones would store multiple images. When a new image
arrives, the phone would sound an alert. Non-matched images would be
automatically discarded from the system.
“By teaming with Motorola and Wirehound, we are now providing a compelling
solution for on-the-spot criminal recognition,” said Joseph Atick, CEO of
While the use of the biometrics face recognition technology in law
enforcement circles has gained momentum, especially after the events of
post-September 11, the unreliability of the software has been criticized by
civil right advocates.
Visionics has already faced criticism by the American Civil Liberties Union,
which argued that the technology can be used to track innocent civilians and
give people a false sense of security.
Following the events of September 11, airport security officials have rushed
to install the face recognition technology but, because the system can be
outsmarted by a pair of sunglasses, critics have had a field day dismissing
it as useless.
The criticisms have not stopped Visionics from scoring lucrative deals to
install security systems in airports throughout the U.S. The company, which
maintains headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., provides identity fraud
applications, and identity verification systems for physical and network
security, travel and banking.