I’m a big fan of biometric systems like facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, palm print recognition, and iris recognition. From a security perspective, biometric systems play an important role, (visit your local airport for a taste), and are definitely a step in the right direction for home computer users.
In March 2010, when I first came across a free biometric login solution (Luxand Blink), based on facial recognition, I could hardly wait to try it out (and yes, take the opportunity to play the role of a bad guy and attempt to defeat it).
At that time, only a 32 bit version of the application was available. Looking ahead though, the developers promised that a 64 bit version of the application was in the works. True to their word, the developers have just released a 64 bit version.
As for defeating this impressive free application, I’ll cut right to the chase – it was an absolute “no go”. The only way to login automatically was by presenting my real face, and only MY face, to the camera.
I wasn’t really surprised. After all, the developers of Luxand Blink are specialists in artificial Intelligence, and biometric identification technologies. According to their web site, “Luxand technologies are used at online entertainment portals, chat rooms and movie Web sites around the globe.”
Contrary to some forum comments I’ve read since I first reviewed this application, it is not possible to “fool” the application by holding a photograph to the camera. I think these people have seen one too many spy movies.
Installation and setup:
Installing Luxand Blink was a snap. The setup automatically detected the make and model of my web cam, and then walked me through the process of establishing the digital image/video frame, which was then used to establish my login template.
As the following screen capture of the Settings panel indicates, further adjustments are easy to make.
On system startup the user is presented with the following screen (this sample screen was taken from the developer’s site). The green box encapsulates the subject’s face to determine if the face matches a previously saved template (from setup). If it does –voila! Automatic login. Very cool!
Additionally, the option to login manually using a password is always available.
Fast facts – from the developer’s site:
Reliable Login under Varying Conditions – With Blink!, you can login day or night. Sophisticated face recognition algorithms adjust for varying lighting conditions automatically, making login possible without additional training no matter whether window or artificial lighting is being used.
Changed Haircut? Swapped Glasses for Contacts? No Problem! – Advanced biometric identification algorithms used in Blink! help it cope with changes of your personal appearance. Grow or shave off beard and mustaches, use makeup or dye you hair, wear or remove glasses or contact lenses – Blink! will let you in to your PC no matter what.
Improved Security – No one remembers those long, complex passwords demanded by your corporate security policy? They don’t have to! With Blink!, users sign into their accounts by simply looking at a webcam. There are no false positives and no delays in letting authorized users into their accounts.
Catch Identity Thieves – Blink! provides additional security benefits by making it simpler to computer users to automatically unlock their PCs by simply looking into a webcam. Stolen passwords are becoming less of an issue as Blink! photographs and timestamps users every time they log in, no matter whether they use a password or biometric sign-in. Journaling account logins helps identify hijacked accounts and find out about who logged in using stolen credentials.
System requirements: Windows Vista and Windows 7 – 32 bit and 64 bit editions available.
Download at: Luxand Blink!
If the 64 bit version is what you’re after, then follow the instructions on the link page.
I found that if I sat back too far from the camera on startup, it caused the program to take an unreasonable time to activate. Sitting forward slightly, caused the application to activate almost instantly.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed by this slightly futuristic method of login. I’ve keep it on my principal home Windows machine since March, 2010 – something I rarely do with test software. It’s very cool!
If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.