This section contains three different stories, which want to give a "futuristic" picture of several applications that may be outcomes of the HUMABIO project.

The tell-tale brainstem

"Access denied"... the red letters in the screen are not so brilliant, but in Mike's perception they shine like the midday sun and trigger an instant cold sweat. For the first time in years, it looks like "Mike the Wiper" has failed.

He quickly recalls the last three months, as in a fast forward mode, trying to look for the mistake. He remembers the first meeting with the gang, when the target was decided (the second largest bank in the country) and the plan was drafted (computer transaction with a fake employee identity). He was especially proud of the "theft" of the biometric features from Leonard Atkinson, the selected employee, scanning his iris and copying his fingerprints when he was sleeping deeply thanks to a dose of chloroform sprayed in his bedroom. Al and Chuck did perfect jobs with the making of the fake skin finger cover and the contact lenses with Mr Atkinson's iris printed image, respectively. It took weeks to finish them; they were almost works of art.

After the phone call from Fat Joe this morning, confirming he had just kidnapped Leonard Atkinson on his way to work, Mike put on his best suit and made his way to the bank. He passed the security control iris scan thanks to the contact lenses, and headed towards Mr Atkinson's single office through the huge building. Checking that nobody was aware of it, he entered the office and sat in front of the computer, preparing the transaction codes obtained by Bobby Boy by means of a generous bribe. He smiled with confidence when passing the computer's fingerprint control with the fake finger cover. When the system asked him to put on the headphones, that strange strap in his forehead and the sensor in the wrist, he thought it was a simple aliveness check for the fingerprint recognition system, or a health control used by Mr Atkinson. But when he started to hear some weak and repetitive noises from the headphones he began to get anxious.

He did not imagine his brain electrical activity was being recorded and analysed by the computer in order to get his EEG relevant parameters and the characteristic shape of his brainstem response to auditory stimuli. All these features were being compared with the database that contained Mr Atkinson's ones, and the evident mismatch had brought the access denial message and an intrusion alarm directly sent to central security.

After all, maybe they should have listened to Dynamite Lou, who, in the first meeting, proposed more classical robbery methods, with little or no support from the guys... The feeling of someone behind takes him back to the present moment. "Sorry, mister, but your brainstem structure happens to be different from Mr Atkinson's." He turns around to find the cynical smile of two policemen and the feared question: "Who are you and what have you done with Leonard?"

Walk on the safe side

"The new landing runway will allow a 30% increase in the number of flights." While the words of the Minister of Transports still echo in the newspapers, the airport is adapting to the new activity level and requirements. The increase in the number of flights has brought, of course, a higher concern about security and control issues. Fortunately, the airport has recently installed a new security system for restricted areas access control, with enhanced biometrics devices, that has been decisive to counteract the negative effects of the new situation.

After parking her car, Dana walks to the airport's main building. She works in one of the restricted areas of the airport, so she is used to frequent high security controls. While in the past she used to complain about the high intrusiveness of some methods and the long times they took, now she thinks otherwise thanks to the high performance of the new system. She gets to the entrance of the security area, and after crossing the guarded door, the biometric control starts. On the right side there is a display with several hanging headphones, which are very light and thin; she takes one of them, presses the green button and puts them on, slightly feeling the sensors under the band touching her head. These novel sensors are capable of detecting several characteristic features from her brain electrical activity in a few minutes and, unlike the old EEG acquiring systems, a small amount of them is enough for the system and, after the test, they leave no trace on the head as no conductive gel is needed to get the signal.

She walkes accross an apparently ordinary aisle, thinking about the meeting she is attending at 9h, while her gait is being recorded by a hidden camera and analysed, and her brain electrical activity is captured through the sensors in the headphones and sent by their wireless transmitter to a central computer. When she gets to the door at the end of the aisle, the face recognition module comes into play. The camera takes seconds to scan her face, communicate with the gait and cerebral activity recognizers, authenticate her and automatically open the door. The same happens for all the authorised employees whose physiological profiles are saved in the database. As the system has been recently installed, they have not experienced the authomatic update feature yet. When any of the modules detects a variation in the measured parameters that, even belonging to the same person, starts a deviation tendency from the stored personal template, it will send an alert to the central system. Then the security responsibles will evaluate the need for a new profile definition and storage.

Once inside the security area, Dana leaves the headphones next to the door, but some of her colleagues don't. Air traffic controllers and other employees with highly attention demanding tasks keep the EEG sensors on. After setting the instrument in another functioning and transmission mode, the security system will control their physical conditions. Stress, fatigue and attention degree will be quantified from EEG measurements and constantly monitorised, in order to prevent risk situations and potential accidents.

Watching the steering wheels

Four Rocks Mining Co. Ltd. was established a long time ago as a small copper mining exploitation. Mr Archibald Mills, who worked at the company for more than fifty years, likes to remember old times, when machinery was so scarce and digging was very close to an adventure. The company is now huge and one of their exploitation sites is the third open copper mine in the world. Mr Archibald's grandson, Luke, works at Four Rocks as a security manager, maybe because of so many stories he heard from his grandfather about accidents at the mine. He is very proud of the latest innovation that has taken place at the company's facilities: the introduction of biometrics in the mining site for security purposes.

Until recently, one of the major drawbacks of mining activities were the accidents that occurred during the different operations that take place at the site. There are always a large number of trucks operating simoultaneously at the mine. With individual loads of 100 to 300 Ton and heights of around 5m, these trucks need to be extremely carefully operated; collisions and overturns would have dramatic consequences. Apart from the positioning control by satellite and local networks, driver monitoring has proven to be a very useful tool in reducing risks. All the trucks are equipped with an authentication and monitoring system that controls the identity and physical condition of the drivers in order to prevent unauthorised operations and accidents.

The driver seat has embedded strain sensors that analyse the anthropometric profile of the seated person; relevant features are extracted by the system and used to check whether the driver is an authorised operator or not, on the basis of a comparison with a database of stored features. This recognition system is reinforced by additional identification methods, as a speech recognition system that operates while the driver is communicating with central control office. But maybe the most outstanding feature is the physical condition monitoring tool that ensures a proper attention state of the drivers. Brain activity sensors, collecting mainly EEG features (as baseline signal or brainstem response to auditori stimuli), send data of each driver to central security, where it is processed to extract relevant parameters. These parameters undergo a classification algorithm that, according to individual reference templates previously stored for each driver, is able to detect abnormal situations, as fatigue, stress or lack of attention, which might lead to human errors and potential disasters.

Thanks to Luke's efforts in the implementation of these biometrics systems, other activities at the mine are also benefiting from operator authentication and monitoring. Accidents in sulphuric acid plants, large scale construction works and ore grinding facilities have been reduced by more than 80% thanks to the alerts triggered by the system. The incorporation of new technologies into the mining processes has been decisive for risks minimisation and one of the key factors for the company's good prospects. In the own words of Mr Archibald Mills, "If only we'd had this kind of things back in the old times!..."

European Framework

  • European Commission
  • IST logo
  • Sixth Framework Programme (FP6)

Related Projects

    Biometrics and Security
    Biometrics for Secure Authentication
  • BITE
    Biometric Identification Technology Ethics
  • COST 275
    Biometrics-Based Recognition of People over the Internet
    Emotionally Rich Man-machine Intelligent System
    Human-Machine Interaction Network on Emotion
  • ICT for Trust and Security
    Security and dependability of Information and Communication Technology
    Advanced Sensor Development for Attention, Stress, Vigilance & Sleep/ Wakefulness Monitoring

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