NIST to OK biometric labs

The Homeland Security Department has asked the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create a Biometrics Laboratory Accreditation Program that would accredit laboratories to evaluate biometric identification systems and related technologies, including facial, fingerprint, retina and voice recognition.

The program, which is expected to take about a year to get under way, would operate under NIST's National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program.

'This will hopefully facilitate' the use of singular sets of test results for multiple purposes,' said Gordon Gillerman, conformity assessment adviser at NIST Technology Services.

'One of the purposes of laboratory accreditation is to provide broad stakeholders with confidence and test results,' Gillerman said.

Many in the biometrics industry welcome the step, but some say it doesn't go far enough.

'We see it is a very good thing, because requiring biometric products to be evaluated on standards promotes interoperability,' said Consuelo Bangs, a senior program manager at Sagem Morpho.

But Bangs said the program won't necessarily help consolidate the confusing and expensive array of testing that vendors face.

NIST's accreditation programs are supported by fees from the participating laboratories.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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