Advances in Biometrics –

Sensors, Algorithms, and Systems


by N. Ratha, V. Govindaraju, (ed.s)

Springer, 2008


Reviewed by:  Lawrence O’Gorman,


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When I received this book, I looked at the table of contents and immediately read two chapters that piqued my interest. This is the nature and intention of this book; even people with considerable biometrics experience are sure to find topics that are new and interesting.

Unlike fundamental textbooks that will form the basis for instruction in a biometrics course or provide reference for anyone new to the field, this book presumes its readers have a basic (or advanced) knowledge of the field. Since one of the co-editors of this book is also a co-author of a fundamental biometrics textbook (reviewed in the Jan. ‘05 issue of the IAPR Newsletter), it is logical that this book is complementary in intention. The book focuses on advances that are either new in the last five or so years, or they are beyond the scope of fundamental tasks. This is the reason that even knowledgeable biometrics practitioners or those experts in a particular biometric modality will likely find material that is new to them here.

This is an edited text, with each chapter written by a different author, each having expertise in the chapter topic. The book is organized into three sections: sensors, algorithms, and systems. Under the sensor section, there are 9 chapters on the following acquisition topics: multispectral fingerprint, touchless fingerprint, fingerprint swipe, ultrasonic fingerprint, palm vein, finger vein, iris, retina and iris (together), and thermal face. Some of these technologies, like ultrasonic acquisition have been available for over a decade; and some, like thermal imaging and single-line swipe are more recent and not commercially available (to my knowledge). But, all papers contain up-to-the-publication-date descriptions. New sensor technology can lead a biometric modality to new levels either by reduction of cost or enhanced imaging ability. To my knowledge, this is the first time biometrics sensors have been brought together in a book, and I found the section extremely interesting.

The second section on algorithms contains ten chapters on: speaker recognition, conversational biometrics, signature verification, writer identification, iris recognition, headprint recognition, face and gait issues with pose and illumination, face reconstruction from degraded images, improving face recognition from videos, and large population face recognition. Not having heard about headprint recognition, this is the first paper I went to (admittedly with some initial skepticism). The chapter described the advantages of this new modality. The main advantage – and scenario for use – is unobtrusively tracking people from overhead cameras in a crowd, reacquiring identities after tracking interruptions.

The final section on systems contains five chapters: fingerprint spoofing, match-on-card, privacy and security, adaptive biometrics, and standards.

This book will be of interest to those in the field who already know the basics and want to discover a range of possibilities that are being examined in research and some of which will soon be commercially available. For those who have not been able to keep up with the high volume of technical papers published in biometrics in the last five or so years in a spectrum of journals and conferences, this will give that reader a good survey of the state-of-the-art.  It will also be useful to those who want more information than is usually covered in the basic texts (most basic texts do not give details on sensors, for instance, nor discuss more than one matching algorithm per modality). Furthermore, it will make a good project book for a biometrics graduate class.

The field of biometrics has achieved a degree of maturity in the last few years. Thus I believe this is an excellent time for a book that is complementary to the introductory texts on biometrics, one that explores beyond the fundamentals. 


As a postscript, I received another biometrics book published concurrently to the book reviewed above. The book, Handbook of Biometrics, edited by A. K. Jain, P. Flynn, A. A. Ross, also contains chapters written by various experts, but its stated purpose is different; it covers the field comprehensively starting from the fundamentals rather than focusing predominantly on advances (although it is definitely state-of-the-art to include many recent advances as well). I found these two books to be complementary. See the review of this book in this issue.

Click above to go to the publisher’s web page where you can read about this book and link to the Table of Contents. 

Book Reviews Published in

the IAPR Newsletter


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Handbook of Biometrics

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Machine Vision Books

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CVonline:  an overview

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The Guide to Biometrics by Bolle, et al

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Pattern Recognition Books

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