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INCITS' Biometrics Technical Committee Approves Iris Recognition and Finger Image Projects

Contact: Maryann Karinch
Karinch Communications

INCITS' Biometrics Technical Committee Approves Iris Recognition and Finger Image Projects
Standards on "Iris Image Interchange Format" and "Finger Image Based Interchange Format" Have Serious Implications for Homeland Security

Washington, D.C. October 7, 2002 - The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) today announced that INCITS Technical Committee M1-Biometrics has approved two additional biometric data interchange project proposals. One is for the development of an iris recognition image interchange standard, and the other for a finger image-base interchange format standard. It is estimated that the draft document for the iris recognition standard will be ready for public review by January 2003 and the finger image draft will be ready by July 2003-both very short timelines for projects of this scope. These two projects are additions to the portfolio of biometric data format standard developments in M1 that includes also a Face Recognition Format for Data Interchange, a Finger Pattern-Based Interchange Format, and a Finger Minutiae Format for Data Interchange.

"Currently, iris and finger image information cannot move efficiently between equipment vendors and that undermines its usefulness for security agencies," said Kate McMillan, director of the Secretariat for INCITS. "Iris information can only be done using an image of the entire eye, which is not only expensive in storage and bandwidth, but it also introduces additional sources of error. And little or no fingerprint information is being exchanged between equipment from different vendors because they haven't agreed on the amount and type of information to capture, the method of capture, and the information to be exchanged. To provide interoperability among vendors, it is essential to define these standards, compact representations of human irises and fingerprints."

By establishing a standard representation of the iris image, M1 will allow interoperability among vendors based on a small data record; define a method to put iris information on ID and smart cards; and encourage adoption of biometrics in applications where interoperability is vital. The establishment of an image-based fingerprint standard will provide interoperability among vendors relying on minutiae-based algorithms and pattern-based algorithms, as well as interoperability between pattern-based and minutiae-based and other fingerprint vendors.

"Open-systems biometric standards are urgently needed in order to accelerate the deployment of reliable security solutions for Homeland Defense, as well as to help prevent identity theft. These standards will also support other government and commercial applications based on biometric personal authentication," said Fernando Podio, chair of INCITS Technical Committee M1. Podio is a member of the Convergent Information Systems Division of the Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Standard biometric data formats support a level of interoperability that cannot be achieved with incompatible and proprietary solutions" Podio said.

M1 has an Ad Hoc Group on Biometric Data Interchange Formats that will begin work on these standards immediately. The Ad-Hoc next meeting is scheduled for October 30 at ITI headquarters, 1250 Eye St. NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC. Additional information on M1, its program of work and its Ad-Hoc meetings can be found at (

The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) is the venue of choice for information technology developers, producers and users for the creation and maintenance of formal IT standards. INCITS is accredited by, and operates under rules approved by, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These rules are designed to ensure that voluntary standards are developed by the consensus of directly and materially affected interests. Contact: INCITS Secretariat, Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), 1250 Eye St. NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005   ( .