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The current dominant approaches to face recognition rely on facial characteristics that are on or over the skin. Some of these characteristics have low permanency can be altered, and their phenomenology varies significantly with environmental factors (e.g., lighting). Many methodologies have been developed to address these problems to various degrees. However, the current framework of face recognition research has a potential weakness due to its very nature. We present a novel framework for face recognition based on physiological information. The motivation behind this effort is to capitalize on the permanency of innate characteristics that are under the skin. To establish feasibility, we propose a specific methodology to capture facial physiological patterns using the bioheat information contained in thermal imagery. First, the algorithm delineates the human face from the background using the Bayesian framework. Then, it localizes the superficial blood vessel network using image morphology. The extracted vascular network produces contour shapes that are characteristic to each individual. The branching points of the skeletonized vascular network are referred to as Thermal Minutia Points (TMPs) and constitute the feature database. To render the method robust to facial pose variations, we collect for each subject to be stored in the database five different pose images (center, midleft profile, left profile, midright profile, and right profile). During the classification stage, the algorithm first estimates the pose of the test image. Then, it matches the local and global TMP structures extracted from the test image with those of the corresponding pose images in the database. We have conducted experiments on a multipose database of thermal facial images collected in our laboratory, as well as on the time-gap database of the University of Notre Dame. The good experimental results show that the proposed methodology has merit, especially with respect to the problem of low permanence over time. More importantly, the results demonstrate the feasibility of the physiological framework in face recognition and open the way for further methodological and experimental research in the area.
Face recognition, biometrics, physiology, thermal infrared, vascular network.

M. Bazakos, P. Buddharaju, I. T. Pavlidis and P. Tsiamyrtzis, "Physiology-Based Face Recognition in the Thermal Infrared Spectrum," in IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis & Machine Intelligence, vol. 29, no. , pp. 613-626, 2007.
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