Novel Biometric Signatures

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) often selects its research efforts through the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) process. This request for information (RFI) is intended to provide information relevant to a possible future IARPA program, so that feedback from potential participants can be considered prior to the issuance of a BAA. Respondents are invited to provide comments on the content of this announcement to include suggestions for improving the scope of a possible solicitation to ensure that every effort is made to adequately address the scientific and technical challenges described below. Responses to this request may be used to support development of, and subsequently be incorporated within, a future IARPA Program BAA and therefore must be available for unrestricted public distribution. The following sections of this announcement contain details of the scope of technical efforts of interest, along with instructions for the submission of responses.

Background & Scope

Since 9/11, the Intelligence Community's (IC) need for reliable biometric recognition performance has expanded beyond today's access control and verification applications that operate within tightly controlled conditions. The IARPA Smart Collection Office is seeking innovative ideas and concepts for the advancement of standoff biometrics technologies. IARPA's objective is to maintain a high degree of recognition accuracy (i.e. level of confidence associated with the match/non-match of biometric signatures derived from two distinct observations), while pushing the range of acquisition as far as possible and requiring minimal cooperation from the subject. The emphasis is on classifying and recognizing unique human phenomenology (i.e. anatomical, physiological, and/or behavioral), or novel biometric signatures, that may by acquired from significantly greater ranges than from today's commercially available biometrics technology. This could include new or unproven signatures, whose efficacy and potential are little understood, and which are not considered top tier biometric modalities.

More specifically, IARPA is interested in novel biometric signatures that can be captured by non-contact methods; i.e., not involving immediate proximity to a sensor. Specific signatures that currently require close sensor proximity may be considered only if a reasonable technology development path exists to permit the acquisition of such signatures from significant ranges (i.e. in excess of 50 meters). While this RFI is not interested in addressing the fusion of biometric signatures, scientific approaches must include any techniques necessary to ensure signatures of interest are being derived from human sources. Also not of interest are techniques or technologies that exploit face, ocular (including iris), and voice or speech biometric modalities.

The purpose of this RFI is to gather input for an IARPA Workshop on Novel Biometric Signatures anticipated to take place on 31 March 2010 in the Washington, DC Metro Area. The workshop objective is to understand the potential feasibility and limitations of novel biometric signatures. Participants will be selected primarily from respondents to this RFI. Workshop participation will be limited to US citizens and permanent US residents. This workshop seeks to accomplish the following:

  1. Identify novel biometric signatures-the phenomenology corresponding to human processes/structures based on anatomical, physiological, and/or behavioral characteristics that may exhibit distinct features and are likely observable from significant ranges; and
  2. Explore non-traditional sensing methods-to include all aspects of transduction (i.e. emissive or modulation-based), propagation, and acquisition (may include techniques for distortion correction) of the signature(s) of interest from significant ranges.

While the practical aspects of operations and deployment are not considerations at this stage, IARPA also seeks to understand the potential size, weight, and power characteristics of technologies being presented. It is expected that research efforts into these novel biometric signatures will ultimately provide new capabilities in human recognition that heretofore have not been feasible.

Workshop Format

It is anticipated that this two-day workshop will bring together researchers from diverse disciplines, including the biological sciences, computer science, physics, and engineering. As such, it presents unique opportunities for cross-disciplinary dialogue that address the unique challenges of potential signatures. The format will offer an opportunity for participants to educate both IARPA and one another in their disciplines and research, as well as provide a forum to facilitate the cross pollination of ideas.

Preparation Instructions to Respondents

IARPA invites respondents to submit ideas related to this topic for use by the Government in formulating a potential program. IARPA requests that submittals briefly and clearly describe the potential approach or concept, outline critical technical issues, and comment on the expected performance, robustness, and a rough estimated cost of the proposed approach. This announcement contains all of the information required to submit a response. No additional forms, kit, or other materials are needed.

Because IARPA is interested in an integrated approach, responses from teams with complementary areas of expertise are encouraged.

Responses have the following formatting requirements:

  1. The document should be formatted in 12 point Times New Roman font, appropriate for single-sided, single-spaced 8.5 by 11 inch paper, with 1-inch margins
  2. A one page cover sheet that identifies the title, organization(s), respondent's technical and administrative points of contact - including names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses of all co-authors, and clearly indicating its association with IARPA RFI-10-02 (this page is not included in the white paper page count);
  3. A substantive, focused, one-half page executive summary (This page is not included in the white paper page count);
  4. Optionally, a single overview briefing chart graphically depicting the key ideas summary. (This page is not included in the white paper page count);
  5. Five page white paper that includes the following:

    • Brief scientific discussion of specific signature(s), technology, or technique
    • Predicted accuracy and stability of the phenomenology (i.e. signature)
    • Method(s) of acquisition
    • Predicted acquisition time
    • Predicted minimum/maximum range of subject in proximity to sensor
    • Mechanisms to potentially increase range between subject and sensor
    • Prior relevant experience
    • A list of relevant citations (any significant claims or reports of success must be accompanied by citations; citations are not included in the white paper page count)

Disclaimers and Important Notes

This is an RFI issued solely for information and possible new program planning purposes, and does not constitute a solicitation. Respondents are advised that IARPA is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received, or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted under this RFI. Respondents are advised that IARPA is under no obligation to extend a workshop invitation to a respondent solely on the basis of white paper submission.

Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. Respondents are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI. It is the respondents' responsibility to ensure that the submitted material has been approved for public release by the organization that funded whatever research is referred to in their response.

The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited, nor is the Government obligated to issue a solicitation based on the responses received. Neither proprietary nor classified concepts or information should be included in the submittal. Input on technical aspects of the responses may be solicited by IARPA from non-Government consultants/experts who are bound by appropriate non-disclosure requirements.

For information contact:


Responses Due: March 4, 2010 11:59 pm Eastern