Ideas 2003: Customise your face

Ideas 2003: Customise your face

Biometrics are quietly going mainstream with practical nonsecurity applications that you don't have to be a secret agent to use.

State-of-the-art security technologies like retinal and facial scanning conjure up images worthy of a James Bond movie. Biometrics are quietly going mainstream, however, with practical nonsecurity applications that you don't have to be a secret agent to use.

The 3Di Station from San Jose, Calif.-based Geometrix Inc. will be coming in 2003 to an eyewear store near you. 3Di is a virtual system for trying on prescription eyeglasses. It uses two cameras to calibrate the exact shape and measurements of a customer's face, then generates a 3-D model. Customers can use the 3-D model of their face to try on different glasses--virtually speaking--and compare how they look in several pairs side-by-side. Measurements that were once taken manually, faxed to a manufacturer and then typed into a computer are now sent directly from 3Di, which greatly reduces the chance for mistakes.

"Retailers are excited about it," says Arthur Zwern, president and founder of Geometrix. "It improves customer satisfaction, they can offer more styles than they stock in the store, and it's easier to upsell the consumer to higher value-added features like thinner lenses because they can see how much better they look."

Zwern expects that in the near future, facial biometric programs will be used for other nonsecurity applications such as virtually trying on makeup in stores to cosmetic surgery applications that will let a patient see exactly how her new nose will look. One can only wonder if Michael Jackson knows about this yet.

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