Biometric data interchange formats enables the interoperability of different biometric systems. Plenty of applications and hardware are intended for surveillance, border control, healthcare, boarding pass among others. Given this variety of biometric systems and the rapidly evolution in biometric technology, It exists many suppliers with dissimilar devices relying on minutiae-based, pattern-based or other algorithms.

In anticipation to avoid compliance and interoperability issues between different systems, the ISO experts’ committee alongside the International Electro-technical Committee (IEC) developed a third generation of data interchange format presented in a Common Biometric Format Framework (CCBEF).

With the wide-range of biometric products, the third and brand new framework is addressed to open systems, which requires the use of an interoperable, open standard allowing enrollment and recognition components to be supplied from different manufacturers. While closed system has specific applications, e.g. the physical access control to a datacenter, it can be designed and implemented under proprietary format standards.

Concretely, the establishment of an image-based representation of fingerprint information will not rely on pre-established definitions of minutiae, patterns or other types. It will provide implementers with the flexibility to accommodate images captured from dissimilar devices, varying image sizes, spatial sampling rates and different greyscale depths. Use of the finger image will allow each vendor to implement their own algorithms to determine whether two fingerprint records are from the same finger.

 Said so, the open system allows the same biometric reference to be read by different applications. Applications that are different in nature will therefore require the biometric data to be encoded in one harmonized record format. For instance, the read of trusted travelers’ document by air companies or the use of eGovernment software demand an unique format to be exchanged in different biometric readers.

The international standards for biometric data have just been published and are composed by different parts, it can be seen here in the links:

  • ISO/IEC39794-1, Information technology – Extensible biometric data interchange formats – Part 1: Framework
  • ISO/IEC39794-4, Information technology – Extensible biometric data interchange formats – Part 4: Finger image data
  • ISO/IEC39794-5, Information technology – Extensible biometric data interchange formats – Part 5: Face image data

 The different parts above will cancel and replace the correspondent parts in the ISO/IEC 19794, that define the framework for interoperability biometric data, specially for fingerprint and face images.

The changing will be adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) during this year. It has as a basis the 9303 regulation relative to readable travel documents by biometric machines. Other parts will be added up to the ISO/IEC 39794, notably to specific data as vascular images, iris and whole body capture.

 Accordingly to Patrick Grother, President of ISO/IEC Technical Committee and in charge of ISO/IEC 39794, the released part form the last framework of international regulations, it takes a large horizon covering wide range of questions related to interoperability in the biometrics:

« We understand to elaborate agreed regulations concerning an international scope for different biometric modals, taking into account the range of applications, the nature which is often sensitive to data and the exigencies in regulation. », he explains.

 The parts were developed by a mix committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information Technology sub-committee SC 37, Biometrics, which the secretariat is assure by ANSI, member of ISO in the United States of America. They are available directly from ISO members in your country or at ISO Store

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