Gait-recognition technology could identify humans at a distance

OCTOBER 14--Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA; www.cc.gatech.edu/cpl/projects/hid/index.html and elsewhere are developing technologies to recognize a person's walk, or gait.

Oct 14th, 2002

OCTOBER 14--Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA;www.cc.gatech.edu/cpl/projects/hid/index.html and elsewhere are developing technologies to recognize a person's walk, or gait. Results indicate these new identification methods hold promise as tools in the war on terrorism and in medical diagnosis.

Gait-recognition technology is a biometric method--that is, a unique biological or behavioral identification characteristic, such as a fingerprint or a face. Though still in its infancy, the technology is growing in significance because of federal studies, such as the Georgia Tech projects, funded by the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

At Georgia Tech, one study is addressing issues of gait recognition by computer vision, and the other is exploring a novel approach--gait recognition with a radar system similar to those used by police officers to catch speeders. The ultimate goal is detect, classify, and identify humans at distances up to 500 feet away under day or night, all-weather conditions. Such capabilities will enhance the protection of US forces and facilities from terrorist attacks, according to DARPA officials.

In the project using radar for gait recognition, results from experiments, data analysis, and algorithm design are promising, says Geisheimer, who works under the direction of GTRI principal research scientist Gene Greneker, and collaborates with GTRI research engineer Bill Marshall and Georgia State University Professor of Biomechanics Ben Johnson.

In the study of gait recognition by computer vision, researchers distinguish their approach from others with a technique called an activity-specific static biometric. A static property--for example, a person's leg length--is not a property of motion itself. It can be measured from a single image.

"The advantage of measuring a static property is that it is amenable to being done from multiple viewpoints," Bobick says. ". . . Static measurements are view invariant, and that is a tremendous advantage because you can't control where someone goes."

Still in its infancy, computer vision-based gait-recognition technology holds promise, particularly for verification or screening around the perimeters of government buildings or in an airport, if it is used in conjunction with other biometric technologies and information, Bobick predicts.

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