The Department of Homeland Security is funding a new study to understand how biometrics (measuring and analyzing biological characteristics such as fingerprint, iris, and facial recognition) can be used to assist individuals who need to verify their identify, particularly at border crossings, airports, and in other U.S. transportation systems.

The study will test and evaluate non-experimental cameras and devices that collect images to determine whether this technology can be conveniently used by ordinary people at airports or in similar settings. They will include variations in device installation and user instructions, and the contractor will observe how easy it is for everyday folks, like me, to use the devices. They will also evaluate the quality of the images, and there are also security aspects to which I am not privy.

The study is being conducted in the Washington, DC, area by the small veteran-owned research and consulting firm, Martin Research Consulting (MRAC). Among their senior staff is Dan Martin, who was the Director of Research for the DHS Future Attribute Screening Technologies (FAST) program, previously under the Homeland Security Advanced Research Agency and the Science & Technology Human Factors Behavior Science Division of DHS.

In April, MRAC advertised for subjects, like me, and I participated in a pre-selection process where I was asked a number of questions about my age, gender, ethnic category, and eye color. I met the refined requirements and will soon be participating in a four-hour research session. I will be compensated for my participation, which will take place towards the end of the month. Stay tuned for an after-action report on how the study progresses.