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Telling people apart by the contours of their face has become the latest biometric recognition technology to be brought to market.

3D facial imaging technology from A4Vision (Applications for Vision) will underpin a range of physical and network access security products, following a deal with software developer ISL Biometrics announced this week.

By combining A4Vision's technology with ISL Biometrics' SentriNET middleware, companies can combine physical and IT security, using biometrics to access their buildings as well as their network. The OEM deal between the two companies includes collaborative product development, integration, global sales, distribution and support by A4Vision.

At a demo at Infosecurity Europe last week, the two companies showed how an infrared camera could be used to measure the contours of the faces of two identical twins (teenage models, natch) to produce remarkably dissimilar 'contour maps'. The results are wire-frame representations of a person's face that wouldn't look out of place in the office of a plastic surgeon.

ISL Biometrics said the technology has, with the reduction in price of infrared cameras, become an affordable proposition. Len Inkster, managing director of security integrator ECSSC, said that a single enrolment, single reader system for physical access to a building would cost between £7,500 and £10,000.

Interest in the technology so far stems mostly from its applications in improving physical security: verifying the identity of baggage handlers in airports, controlling access to sensitive areas in hospitals and the like. So we're talking control environments, not crowd situations where the use of biometric technology has proved far more problematic.

Inkster said the network access side of technology is less mature but further development work will allow systems that verify the identity of stock exchange traders in the later this year. ISL Biometrics reckons the cost per PC seat of a network access system using 3D technology can be brought down to around £100. ®

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