by Jonathan Kantor
Ten years ago the subject of corporate security involved an IT department setting up a system involving the intricate use of text and numeric password combinations. Today with mobile computing, information terrorism, corporate espionage, and smart viruses, the issue of securing valuable corporate information has become as important as posting a quarterly profit.
One of the areas that can be a powerful weapon in the quest for greater information security is the use of facial recognition systems. While this capability has been in place for several years on legacy computer systems, its use among PC’s is still relatively new.
Titanium Technology, a leading developer in the area of facial recognition software, has developed two security applications. One of their solutions, called ProAccess FaceOK*, allows both public and private institutions secure an employees’ PC system, by using face recognition in lieu of passwords. This provides greater security for important corporate information. Their other solution is called ProAccess ProFacer* that provides facial recognition with professional video surveillance systems.
Titanium Technology is using the power and economies of scale of Intel® 64-bit processor technology to triple the performance of their software while also bringing down the cost of ownership for the system. Normally facial recognition systems have required expensive and proprietary hardware systems in order to provide the level of performance required to rapidly analyze facial structures. By developing their technology for Intel architecture, Titanium is able to provide this capability on a PC platform for a fraction of the cost that would normally be associated with their proprietary counterparts. By doing so, a much larger number of businesses will be able to acquire this technology opening up new business opportunities for Titanium Technology.
What makes Titanium Technology’s approach unique is the way that the software uses the performance gleaned from Intel technology to accelerate the security approval process. The software only requires one tenth to one-twentieth of a second to detect a person's face and two seconds to provide recognition of a person's identity on an ordinary personal computer, providing a user friendly and efficient secure access. Once the user’s identity has been verified by the software, he or she can login to the computer network from a local or a remote access point. Any unauthorized users’ attempting to login to the network, will be denied. At the same time their facial images will be captured and filed in the system. As a result, this cutting-edge technology can accurately capture and analyze the 3D facial features and profiles of the users.
According to Billy Tang, Titanium Technology’s COO, "Facial recognition is a very demanding process, which has normally required that the user invest in very expensive systems. This is because the process involves many complex mathematical algorithms and lots of memory. Our software takes advantage of Symmetrical Multiprocessing (SMP) so we have a different algorithm running in parallel with our solution. By supporting Intel SMP technology the user can obtain a performance improvement at a cost that would not be possible with other proprietary sys tems."
FaceOK and ProFace have been deployed to thousands of users around the world, and due to the company’s successes, FaceOK was selected as the finalist in the Security Infrastructure Category of "Best of COMDEX Award" in 2003.
Titanium Technology and the Intel® Software Program Program with Intel® Remote Access Service
In order to provide the level of performance that is required for these solutions to search through thousands of facial features and provide secure access within a one second timeframe, Titanium needed the support of an extremely fast hardware platform.
With the release of the Intel® Itanium® 64-bit microprocessor architecture with Hyper-Threading Technology (HT Technology), Titanium saw a powerful and strategic competitive advantage for their software. If the initial performance results that they read about could be adapted for their software, it would further increase their marketplace advantage of high performance at a lower cost.
According to Jason Ma, Titanium Technology’s Executive Director, "It is important for our clients that we provide them with not only a very fast system, but also a cost effective one. By developing our solution for an Intel-based platform, we can provide a compelling solution that is much more cost effective than competing proprietary solutions. As a result, our customers do not have to sacrifice the level of performance that they demand for a much higher price".
Titanium Technology wanted to test their theory. In 2003, they were informed about the Intel® Software Partner Program (then called Intel® Early Access Program) through their development contacts within Intel. Within a few weeks after being accepted to the program, they were provided with an Intel Itanium 2-based development unit and high speed access to the system via Remote Access.
With Remote Access, the engineers are able to tunnel into their evaluation systems using high speed, secure internet connections to further develop and test their software. This ensured an undisturbed level of access to their software which was located on these remote systems in an Intel performance lab on a 24 by 7 basis. Having their home office located in Hong Kong, which translated into a 14 hour difference between their offices and the Intel development center, the remote access capability allowed Titanium Technology to access their software without the typical concern of having support or administrative staff available during late night hours. With this service Titanium Technology was able to conduct their migration and performance testing on several different server configurations allowing their work to progress much faster and more smoothly without disruption.
When the test results came in Titanium Technology was surprised at how the performance of both the FaceOK and ProFace applications had improved. According to Tang, "We were blown away by the performance improvement. We saw performance gains three times greater running on the Itanium system. Our solution is very CPU demanding, so the combined performance gain we achieved as a result of the 64-bit architecture and Intel HyperThreading technology was amazing to us. By supporting this platform and seeing these results , we are confident that this will translate into a unique advantage for us as we market our solution."
Jason Ma added, "What our customers want is both high performance and lower cost. Intel is the only one that is providing this for us right now and it is a relatively easy way for us to achieve this goal. We are recommending the Intel Itanium 64–bit platform to our customers so that they can get the best possible performance for our solution at a cost that they will find acceptable."
For developers that have great application solution ideas, having the right resources at the right time can often be the factor that determines whether the solution will succeed and make it to market or miss a critical mark in its development cycle and fail. The Intel® Software Partner Program with Intel® Remote Access Service allows developers to utilize sophisticated development equipment, supporting components to complement testing and validation, and allows access to highly capable support resources that will ensure that a project will meet both their timeline and customer goals. The experiences that the Titanium Technology development team had with the solutions provides one of many examples where developers are using the Intel® Software Partner Program to address their business and development challenges thereby enhancing their chances for success.
In a final statement Billy Tang added, "What the Early Access Program (Intel® Software Partner Program) has done for our company is to provide a way for us to support future Intel high performance technology initiatives which translates into an enormous market advantage. Without the support from Intel, this wouldn’t even have been possible. We would highly recommend this program to any other developer in a similar situation to advance their software solution."
About the Author and Related Links
Jonathan Kantor is the President of The Appum Group, "The White Paper Company" a technical marketing firm specializing the utilization of outsourced technical and marketing professionals towards the creation of solution specific white papers and related deliverables for the technology sectors of the business marketplace. Prior to starting The Appum Group, Jonathan was the Technical Communications Manager for J.D. Edwards Enterprise. Jonathan’s role in the enterprise software market is coupled with over 20 years of experience with some of the top computer and software industry leaders including Digital Equipment Corporation, Apple Computer, and Microsoft Corporation, where he held a variety of sales, marketing, and management positions. Jonathan resides in Denver Colorado. For more information please contact The Appum Group at (303) 750-7302.