Biometric technology used in Osama bin Laden’s death
Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 01:05
Students at West Virginia University took to the streets of Morgantown, burning couches and singing in celebration of Osama bin Laden's death.
On May 2, bin Laden, leader of international terrorist organization al-Qaida, was shot and killed by an elite team of Navy SEALS while he was hiding in Pakistan.
After celebrating this victory, public attention has shifted to curiosity about how bin Laden's death came happened.
Bojan Cukic, a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at WVU, gave insight on the biometric technology used to bring down bin Laden.
Cukic said SEEK, or Secure Electronic Enrolment Kit, was one crucial tool used by the team of Navy SEALS to ensure they had identified the correct target.
"SEEK is a handheld device, which integrates cameras for face and iris recognition and a sensor for fingerprint matching", Cukic explained.
This device can store large amounts of personal data on multiple people. This data, which includes hundreds of photographs, is compared to a possible subject to identify a possible match. Cukic said bin Laden's fingerprints were not available, so facial recognition was key.
As for its accuracy, Cukic said SEEK was very reliable, depending on the quality of the photos used. Modern technologies have made facial recognition almost as accurate as fingerprinting and iris scans, he said.
"Navy SEALS were quite certain they had the right guy even before his DNA was submitted for testing in the base in Afghanistan", Cukic said. "If there was any doubt, the president of the United States would not have gone to the national television announcing the success of the mission before DNA matching results became available."
However, some mistakes are known to happen. Facial recognition can be impaired if the person in question alters their appearance or is too far away, Cukic said.
He said biometric technology is becoming more of an important factor in everyday lives of people across the globe.
"Crossing the borders, accessing medicine cabinets in hospitals, even logging in onto our laptops is simply easier more convenient and more secure with biometrics", he said.