Telos enters the touchless fingerprint market

Years before COVID became a thing, the U.S. government had a desire to encourage touchless fingerprint technologies. This began many years ago with a concerted effort to capture a complete set of fingerprints in less than 15 seconds. By 2016, this had evolved to a set of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) entered into by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and several private companies.

For purposes of this post, I’m going to concentrate on just one of the listed mobile fingerprint capture technology solutions. The mobile fingerprint capture technologies from these companies were intended to support the capture of fingerprints from a standard smartphone without any additional capture equipment. (Compare this to the portal/kiosk category, which employed specialized capture equipment.)

One of NIST’s CRADA partners for mobile fingerprint capture was a company called Diamond Fortress Technologies.

Via our CRADA  relationship (Cooperative Research and Development Agreement), Diamond Fortress is currently working with NIST to develop standards dealing with best practices, certification methodology, data formatting and interoperability with legacy contact-based and inked print databases for optical acquisition systems. This will support future certification for purchase on the Government Certified Products lists.

Fast forward a few years, and Diamond Fortress Technologies’ offering is back in the news again.

Telos Corporation has acquired the ONYX touchless fingerprint biometric software and other assets of Diamond Fortress Technologies (DFT), and appears to be targeting new verticals with the technology.

Now that happened to catch my eye for one particular reason.

You see, my former employer IDEMIA used to have a monopoly on the TSA PreCheck program. If you wanted to enroll in TSA PreCheck, you HAD to go to IDEMIA. This provided a nice revenue stream for IDEMIA…well, perhaps not so nice when all of the airports lost traffic due to COVID.

Anyway, the Congress decided that one provider wasn’t optimal for government purposes, so in early 2020 other vendors were approved as TSA PreCheck providers.

WASHINGTON – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today announced that TSA PreCheck™ enrollment services will now be provided by Alclear, LLC; Telos Identity Management Solutions, LLC; and Idemia Identity & Security USA, LLC, expanding the opportunities that enable travelers to apply for TSA PreCheck.

Just to clarify, the company then known as Alclear is better known to the general public as CLEAR.

And the third company is Telos.

Which is now apparently moving into the touchless fingerprint space.

Now THAT is going to have an impact on enrollment.

Pangiam, CLEAR, and others make a “sporting” effort to deny (or allow) stadium access

Back when I initially entered the automated fingerprint identification systems industry in the last millennium, I primarily dealt with two markets: the law enforcement market that seeks to solve crimes and identify criminals, and the welfare benefits market that seeks to make sure that the right people receive benefits (and the wrong people don’t).

Other markets simply didn’t exist. If I pulled out my 1994-era mobile telephone and looked at it, nothing would happen. Today, I need to look at my 2020-era mobile telephone to obtain access to its features.

And there are other biometric markets also.

Pangiam and stadium bans

Back in 1994 I couldn’t envision a biometrics story in Sports Illustrated magazine. But SI just ran a story on how facial recognition can be used to keep fans out of stadiums who shouldn’t be there.

Some fans (“fanatics”) perform acts in stadiums that cause the sports teams and/or stadium authorities to officially ban them from the stadium, sometimes for life.

John Green is the man in the blue shirt and white baseball cap to Artest’s left. By Copyright 2004 National Basketball Association. – Television broadcast of the Pacers-Pistons brawl on ESPN., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6824157

But in the past, these measures were ineffective.

For a long time, those “measures” were limited at best. Fans do not have to show ID upon entering arenas. Teams could run checks on all the credit cards to purchase tickets to see whether any belonged to banned fans, but those fans could easily have a friend buy the tickets. 

But there are other ways to enforce stadium bans, and Sports Illustrated quoted an expert on the matter.

“They’ve kicked the fan out; they’ve taken a picture—that fan they know,” says Shaun Moore, CEO of a facial-recognition company called Trueface. “The old way of doing things was, you give that picture to the security staff and say, ‘Don’t let this person back in.’ It’s not really realistic. So the new way of doing it is, if we do have entry-level cameras, we can run that person against everyone that’s coming in. And if there’s a hit, you know then; then there’s a notification to engage with that person.”

This, incidentally, is an example of a “deny list,” or the use of a security system to deny a person access. We’ll get to that later.

But did you notice the company that was mentioned in the last quote? I’ve mentioned that company before, because Trueface was the most recent acquisition by the company Pangiam, a company that has also acquired airport security technology.

But Pangiam/Trueface isn’t the only company serving stadium (and entertainment) venues.

CLEAR and stadium entry

Most of the time, sports stadiums aren’t concentrating on the practice of DENYING people entry to a stadium. They make a lot more money by ALLOWING people entry to a stadium…and allowing them to enter as quickly as possible so they can spend money on concessions.

One such company that supports this is CLEAR, which was recently in the news because of its Initial Public Offering. Coincidentally, CLEAR also provides airport security technology, but it has branched out from that core market and is also active in other areas.

For example, let’s say you’re a die-hard New York Mets fan, and you head to Citi Field to watch a game.

By Chris6d – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=101751795

The Mets don’t just let anyone into the stadium; you have to purchase a ticket. So you need to take your ticket out of your pocket and show it to the gate staff, or you need to take your smartphone out of your pocket and show your digital ticket to the gate staff.

What if you could get into the stadium without taking ANYTHING out of your pocket? Well, you can.

In the CLEAR Lane, your fingerprint is all you need to use tickets in your MLB Ballpark app – no need to pull out your phone or printed ticket as you enter the game.

Now that is really easy.

Pangiam and CLEAR aren’t the only companies in this space, as I well know. But there’s the possibility that biometrics will be used more often for access to sports games, concerts, and similar events.

Marketing messages at multiple levels

Today is podcast day on my content calendar, and I decided upon a title for my next podcast before I even started recording it.

The title? “All clear for an IPO.”

When I selected that title, I knew that 100% of the listeners would discern that the podcast had to do with some company’s initial public offering.

And I knew that 5% of the listeners would understand the significance of the word “clear” in the title.

And I additionally knew that 1% of the listeners would understand the significant of the word “all” in the title.

If you listen to the podcast episode, you’ll understand the significance of these two words, if you didn’t already know their significance.

This is an example of a marketing message that works at multiple levels. Some people will take the title at face value, while others will discern deeper information.

Personally, a lot of my writing is like this, with dense links to illustrative material and occasional phrases that have multiple meanings.

But what happens when a marketing message has multiple meanings and the marketer doesn’t know it?

I am a lover of comedy, and one of my favorite comedy groups from the 1980s is the Pet Shop Boys. Now you might think of the Pet Shop Boys as a music group, but you’re wrong. The duo is actually an accomplished comedy group, with their comedy present in their musical, visual, and lyrical output.

Musically, seek out the Pet Shop Boys’ recording of “Always on My Mind” and compare it to, for example, Willie’s version. Tongue is firmly in cheek here.

Visually, I can sum things up in two words: Chris Lowe. While Neil sings away in videos or in concert, Chris has perfected the fine art of standing there.

“We had a video director once who said I stood still very well,” Chris informs me proudly. “It’s not easy, you know. A lot of people can’t do it. It’s an art form.”

And how about those lyrics? On the surface, songs like “Opportunities” sound like the lyrics came from a Thatcherite manifesto, but anyone who was aware of the currents in United Kingdom politics in the 1980s would obviously know that the Pet Shop Boys didn’t really mean that. Right?

Well

I wonder how many Allstate insurance customers are singing along with a song dripping with sarcasm.

However, I suspect that Neil and Chris enjoyed making a quick pound off of an American insurance company. After all, they got lots of money in return.

…the duo’s U.S. Top 10 “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” has entered (Billboard) magazine’s Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales chart at No. 5, after appearing in an ad for Allstate Insurance that aired during Super Bowl LV…