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SCIENTISTS FIND SOMETHING IN THE WAY YOU WALK
Sunday, November 3, 2002
It may be a swagger, a shuffle or a limp, but experts have found the way a
person walks is almost as unique as their fingerprints.
A team of American researchers is now developing a security system that can
identify people by their gait.
Ultimately it is hoped that walk scanning will join other emerging biometric
technologies, such as face and eye recognition, which already show promise.
While these mostly rely on machine vision, the team studying gait at the
Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta focused on radar as the basis of
Radar signals bounced off any object produce a unique signature and the
Georgia team decided to explore the potential of collecting echoes from
various parts of the body as a person walked.
A computer was programmed to analyse these signals to define a set of unique
characteristics for a particular individual and in tests, the researchers
were able correctly to identify 80-95% of volunteers purely from their walk.
Engineer John Geisheimer said: "We didn't really know whether we would find
anything useful, but fairly soon we began to come out with some distinct
"We have also been able to detect asymmetries such as a limp."
For this reason, it was possible the technology might have medical as well
as security applications, he said.
He added that it was "pretty readily apparent" when someone tried to trick
the system by deliberately walking in a strange way.
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