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Thales Earns Top Marks in DHS Biometric Tech Rally

Thales, a global leader in biometric systems, recently demonstrated its facial-recognition capabilities by capturing one of the top scores in the 2022 Biometric Technology Rally, organized by the DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate.

The rally, an annual contest now in its fifth year, is a series of scientifically-rigorous assessments of high-throughput traveler processing systems. DHS engages vendors and recruits a diverse group of volunteers in a carefully structured competition designed to reveal their relative performance in a real-world test at the Maryland Test Facility in Upper Marlboro.

Each year’s rally emphasizes different requirements, such as face-matching performance for people wearing masks. This year DHS focused on "acquisition" – the hardware and software used to locate the face of each volunteer walking past a camera. To capture every participant who opts-in while ignoring anyone who opts-out, systems must be optimized for imager and processor performance, mounting geometry, software calibration, duplicate image detection, and system reliability.

Thales provided both a single-camera system with a participant-facing display screen (code-named "Bison") and a three-camera system with no screen (code-named "Wilson"). The screen-based system allows participants to see their own faces in a "gallery" display, while the triple-camera system provides only an audio tone to indicate a successful capture.

"We want to support all use cases for secure travel," said Neville Pattinson, head of Business Development and Strategic Marketing for Thales Identity & Biometric Solutions in the U.S. "In some situations, travelers want to see exactly what's being captured and a short pause is acceptable. In others, we acquire images of moving subjects using multiple cameras and audio feedback; this is slightly faster. In any case, we put each traveler's privacy choices first."

Thales achieved class-leading performance in multiple DHS tests, including some designed to measure the effects of participant gender, ethnicity, or skin tone. When paired with any of the four best available biometric matching algorithms, the single-camera "Bison" system enabled an overall “true identification rate” (TIR) of 97.4% in the group-of-four tests -- the top score for that category. 

"The outcomes of this rally not only confirm the accuracy and equity of our solutions, but they also help us learn where to focus our engineering efforts for the future," said Pattinson.

Finally, both Thales systems achieved a perfect privacy score when paired with any of the four best matchers – no participant who opted out was captured against their wishes.

Thales’ strong performance on these tests reflects the strength of its core technologies and its ability to meet challenging requirements with rapid innovation. Technical results for the rally have been posted by DHS at Thales seeks to continue advancing the state-of-the-art for biometrics systems, ultimately enabling secure, convenient, and privacy-preserving travel for everyone.

Matthew Cox, Thales Media Relations North America