New NEC technology makes your face your password; Could support Android phones in the future

NEC Neo Face Monitor

Japanese information technology services and products provider NEC Corporation has launched a biometric security program that uses face-recognition to unlock access to PCs.

NEC said its "NeoFace Monitor" is an alternative to passwords, which can be forgotten, stolen or guessed. With the NeoFace Monitor, a user simply looks at a webcam to unlock his PC.

The NeoFace Monitor protects access to PCs running on the Microsoft Windows 7 and 8 operating system.

It's a software package that verifies the identity of a user by matching facial features to those in a stored image. The NeoFace Monitor uses image processing algorithms to track facial features such as pupils, the lower part of the nose and the corners of the mouth. NEC said the program can recognize a subject even if he isn't facing the camera directly, has grown a beard or is wearing eyeglasses.

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An NEC test showed the program could identify faces in about half a second. When the person left his seat, his laptop automatically locked.

NEC said it has the most accurate face-recognition engine in the latest evaluation by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology known as the Multiple Biometric Grand Challenge.

NEC's error rate in this test, which measures the ability of the algorithm to compare compressed standard face images, was 0.3 percent compared to 2.5 percent and 3 percent for the closest competitors.

The NeoFace Monitor is being rolled out as an enterprise security solution to protect business firms.

"We have been working on biometric technology for police forces, and now we want to provide it to meet the security needs of business clients," said NEC spokeswoman Naoko Ozeki.

NEC is considering adding support for Android and smartphones in the future.

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