Stepping for science: P.E.I. Researcher works on the next generation of biometrics


By Dylan DesRoche

April 5 2016

Sick of fumbling with a keycard to get into work?

One P.E.I. researcher might have the solution, and it’s straight out of a James Bond movie.

Phd.Patrick Connor is working on something called gait recognition technology. Gait Recognition technology uses how people walk to identify them. Connor is attempting to do it through very sensitive floor panels .

If he can do this he will be able to eliminate the need for inconvenient security measures.

Research says you can identify people by how they walk ,but until recently shoes could throw the whole system off, said Connor.

“When you start wearing shoes, the footwear starts to redistribute pressures and when you change your shoes it’s going to distribute it differently than another pair of shoes. This makes it difficult to identify a person based on pressure alone.”

But Connor’s research suggests that though shoes can change how the pressure is distributed, they don’t change where the pressure comes from.

“The centre of the pressure that you’re placing as that footprint evolves is quite stable within an individual, and it also is a fairly characteristic feature of a person.”

By looking at where the pressure originates from we can identify a person, regardless if their wearing shoes or not said Connor.

The system is still maturing said Connor, and isn’t ready for say airports, for example someone could walk strangely on purpose to fool the sensors.

But in situations where you want to be identified, say trying to get into your office, this technology could be very useful he said.

One of the main applications for Phd.Connor’s technology is the protection of secure buildings. A office building would be a great fit for this technology said Phd.Connor, a company could get all of it’s employees to walk over the panels and create a database of how they walk. Employees would be able to just walk into the building, over some of Phd.Connor’s panels, and they would be identified. This system could even prevent people from trailing in behind employees.

“A system like this could span the outside and inside of a facility so that once you walk in it still identifies how many people went in. It would also say ‘hey there was a tailgater there you better go check that out’, or maybe even identify the person and say ‘no worries, it’s an okay person’.”

Though the technology could be used for security, it could be also used to help in the recovery from surgeries said Connor.

Patients could walk across the panels before they had a gait altering surgery. After the surgery the patient would once again walk across the panels. Their gait would be compared to what it was pre-surgery.

“It’s an objective measure that will be able to identify when your at the point you want to be.”

Connor is working with P.E.I. start-up ViTRACK Systems, based in Charlottetown, it’s one of two Canadian start-ups working on commercial gait recognition software, said Connor.

“It’s maturing slowly, but at some point it’s going to hit the critical threshold where companies are just going to do it, and we want to be apart of that.

Another Canadian start-up is also working on similar technology.

Autonomous Id is an Ontario based biometric company, unlike Connor and ViTRACK who are focusing on floor panels,  Autonomous Id is putting the sensors in the soles of shoes. Todd Gray is its chairman and CEO.

“In the security industry, the Bio Sole enables employers and authorities to authenticate the identity of security-cleared personnel,”

“It works as easily as a chip-mounted access card, but it is far more secure,” said Gray

The firm wants to be a leader in biometrics said Gray.

Using chips built into specially modified insoles, staff can be identified as they enter the building. GPS trackers could be added, which would allow employers to know where each member of their staff was at all times.

“The Bio Sole would certainly contribute to say an airport’s defence. The Bio Sole can help to deny access to restricted areas by authenticating the identity of personnel with appropriate clearance.”

It also has medical applications as well, since certain conditions change how people walk. Bio Sole would notice that right away, leading to a quicker diagnoses, he said.

Gray first came up with the concept for Bio sole in 2007, and brought it to the market in 2015.