The University of Southampton

Gait biometrics still walking the walk

Published: 2 June 2011

Research on gait biometrics at the University of Southampton has passed another landmark with the first public demonstration of the technology’s ability to withstand deliberate spooking.

In a programme shown in the Discovery Channel’s 'Planet Earth' series, Professor Mark Nixon of ECS-Electronics and Computer Science explained how his research on gait – the way we walk – has progressed over the years. The programme was filmed in the ECS Biometrics Tunnel – the only one of its kind in the world. The technology based in the Tunnel combines and processes data from 12 cameras to produce an individual 'signature' of a person’s walk that is unique and recognizable with over 90 per cent accuracy.

In the first public test of the system, Professor Nixon and two of his PhD students, John Bustard and Darko Matovski, tried to fool the software by swapping clothes, wearing hats and scarves, and even a motorcycle helmet. The technology stood up to all these tests and Professor Nixon explained how this robustness has been able to help the UK police and security services. It may even be able to detect padding underneath clothing – for example, the changed body profile and walk of a suicide bomber.

“People are unique by quite a variety of different measures,” said Professor Nixon, “and that rich diversity is fascinating.”

Watch the Discovery Channel video.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel. +44(0)23 8059 5453.

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