Dr. Dobbs: Startup 3VR Fights Fraud With Facial Recognition Technology, Appliance

October 29, 2006 | Coverage

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Surveillance video systems are virtually everywhere, but they're mostly used for investigating malfeasance after the fact. But a startup called 3VR Security is giving companies the ability to tap into the video feeds to identify criminal behavior before it happens.

San Francisco-based 3VR, which earlier this month received a $15 million investment from DAG Ventures, Palo Alto, Calif., sells a software-based appliance that plugs into IP-based video surveillance systems, extracts biometric facial recognition data from the feed and converts it into searchable information. Organizations such as banks can aggregate video data into a searchable database as a means of identifying criminals before they're able to pass bad checks, according to Steve Russell, co-founder and CEO of 3VR. "Making surveillance video searchable is one way to stop bad things from happening in the first place," he said, adding that hotels and government agencies have also shown interest in the technology.

3VR's technology captures images of people's faces over time and can aggregate biometric data from millions of hours of video, Russell said. One of the technology's strengths is being able to capture images during the split-second intervals when the camera has a head-on view of a person's face, he added.

The technology also can compare biometric data with banking data such as account numbers and transaction amounts to identify patterns of suspicious activity and alert tellers to deny transactions to specific individuals, Russell said. "When you combine these data, you have the basis for a fraud-prevention solution," he said.

Jonathan Forrester, senior vice president of marketing at Alive Tech, a Cumming, Ga.-based solution provider, said 3VR has the lead in the proactive fraud-prevention space and is continually working to fine-tune its technology. "There are a lot of bad stories about facial recognition, but they've done a good job of designing their solutions around those problems," he said.

Using 3VR's technology, banks can cut the time spent on investigating criminal behavior, Forrester said. "It takes less than a minute to come back with search results from a week's worth of video," he said.

3VR partners with integrators who perform security-related optimizations such as video camera tuning and integration of the video feed into third-party enterprise applications, Russell said.

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