Gait recognition is an emerging biometric technology which involves people being identified purely through the analysis of the way they walk. While research is still underway, it has attracted interest as a method of identification because it is non-invasive and does not require the subject’s cooperation. Gait recognition could also be used from a distance, making it well-suited to identifying perpetrators at a crime scene. But gait recognition technology is not limited to security applications – researchers also envision medical applications for the technology. For example, recognizing changes in walking patterns early on can help to identify conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis in their earliest stages.
Gait recognition technology is, however, still in its developing stages. No model has, as of yet, been developed that is sufficiently accurate and marketable. The technology is moving ahead at a rapid pace, however, with government-sponsored projects supporting research such as that going on at the Georgia Institute of Technology, MIT, the Lappeenranta University of Technology, and others academic institutions.
There are two main types of gait recognition techniques currently in development. The first, gait recognition based on the automatic analysis of video imagery, is the more widely studied and attempted of the two. Video samples of the subject’s walk are taken and the trajectories of the joints and angles over time are analyzed. A mathematical model of the motion is created, and is subsequently compared against any other samples in order to determine their identity.
The second method uses a radar system much like that used by police officers to identify speeding cars. The radar records the gait cycle that the various body parts of the subject create as he or she walks. This data is then compared to other samples to identify them.
Efforts are being made to make gait recognition as accurate and usable as possible, and while it may never be as reliable as other biometrics such as fingerprint or iris recognition, it is predicted that gait recognition technology will be released in a functional state within the next five years, and will be used in conjunction with other biometrics as a method of identification and authentication.
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