Biometrics Security and Privacy

Biometrics refers to the automatic recognition of individuals based on their physiological and/or behavioral characteristics.

Biometrics refers to the automatic recognition of individuals based on their physiological and/or behavioral characteristics.

The Biometrics Security and Privacy (BSP) group at Idiap focuses on three main areas of research:

  1. Biometric recognition: We investigate and develop new biometrics based recognition algorithms, notably for face, voice, and vein biometric modalities.
  2. Presentation attack detection: We look for new and better ways of detecting presentation attacks on face, voice, and vein biometric recognition systems.
  3. Biometric template protection: We research effective methods of preserving both the security of biometric recognition systems and the privacy of their users by protecting the biometric models ("templates") that are employed by the system for recognition purposes.

The BSP group prioritizes reproducibility in research. This is important for ensuring that our work can be both verified and built upon by the wider research community. To enable reproducibility, we mainly make use of our Python-based signal-processing and machine-learning toolbox, Bob, which we make freely available for academic purposes. The group also develops and maintains the BEAT platform -- a MLaaS platform compliant with Swiss and European data-security norms.

The group participates in several large-scale biometrics projects at Swiss (SNSF), European (H2020) or world-wide levels (eg. IARPA/DARPA) but also conducts projects directly with companies.

The BSP group provides also expertise to the Swiss Center for Biometrics Research and Testing, which, among other things, carries out tests and evaluations on commercial products related to biometrics.

Video Presentation

Current Group Members

MARCEL, Sébastien
(Senior Researcher)
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(Research Associate)
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(Research Associate)
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(Research Associate)
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SARFJOO, Saeed (Seyyed)
(Postdoctoral Researcher)
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GEORGE, Anjith
(Postdoctoral Researcher)
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(Postdoctoral Researcher)
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(Postdoctoral Researcher)
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(Postdoctoral Researcher)
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(Research Assistant)
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(Research Assistant)
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(Research Assistant)
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  • ATANASOAEI, Constantin-Cosmin
  • BALA SUBBURAMAN, Venkatesh
  • BENDALE, Abhijit
  • EGLITIS, Teodors
  • EL KHOURY, Elie
  • EL SHAFEY, Laurent
  • ERDOGMUS, Nesli
  • GALBALLY, Javier
  • GÜNTHER, Manuel
  • JOHANSSON, Niklas
  • JUST, Agnès
  • KEOMANY, Jean
  • MÄÄTTÄ, Jukka
  • MANDASARI, Miranti
  • MCCOOL, Christopher
  • MCLAREN, Mitchell
  • MEHTA, Rakesh
  • ROY, Anindya
  • TOME, Pedro
  • VANONI, Matthias
  • WALLACE, Roy (Geoffrey)

Current Projects

Recent Projects

Idiap becomes the world’s third biometrics certification center
institute — May 14, 2019

The reference in authentication standards, the FIDO Alliance has confirmed the accreditation of Idiap’s Biometrics Center as only the third member of a what remains a very exclusive club, placing it at the heart of those security issues that make up the sensitive and fast-growing domain of biometric certification.

KeyLemon, Idiap spin-off rachetée par AMS
institute — Feb 12, 2018

Ce lundi 6 février 2018, AMS, leader mondial sur le marché des solutions de capteurs ultra-performants a annoncé [1] avoir acquis pour un montant non divulgué KeyLemon, une spin-off de l'Idiap.

Idiap spin-off KeyLemon acquired by ams
institute — Feb 09, 2018

On Monday Feb 6th, ams, a worldwide supplier of high performance sensor solutions, announced the acquisition of KeyLemon for an undisclosed amount [1].

A more secure biometric authentication system
research — Apr 25, 2017

Now EPFL's Security and Cryptography Laboratory and the startup Global ID have developed an even more secure identification system that processes data more safely than current standards and that leverages 3D vein imaging technology developed by the Idiap Research Institute in Martigny, the University of Applied Sciences in Sion (HES-SO Valais-Wallis) and Global ID.

Certificate of Advanced Studies in Biometrics and Privacy
research — Apr 04, 2017

Idiap created in collaboration with UniDistance a new Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) program. The goal of this program is to teach concepts and technologies in the area of Biometrics and Privacy and to provide students with a full understanding of data protection, privacy preservation, compliance with privacy regulations and potential privacy losses.

Sécurité biométrique: Martigny séduit les Etats-Unis
research — Mar 08, 2017

L’institut de recherche Idiap de Martigny et son Centre suisse de recherche et d’évaluation en sécurité biométrique ont intégré deux programmes phares du gouvernement américain. Odin et MediFor ont pour mission de lutter contre le "spoofing" et de démasquer la propagande. Les explications de Sébastien Marcel, directeur du centre, interrogé par Anne Baecher.

L’Idiap financé par les Américains pour ses travaux sur la biométrie
research — Mar 08, 2017

Nouvelle étape pour l’Idiap de Martigny: l’institut vient d’intégrer deux projets phare du gouvernement américain dédié à la sécurité biométrique, il fait partie d’un groupe de quatre équipes qui travailleront sur ODIN….un système contre ce qu’on appelle le spoofing.

Biowatch SA raises CHF 1.2M seed round to finalise its disruptive wearable biometric authentication solution
tech — Jan 19, 2017

Lausanne, Switzerland, January 17, 2017 - Biowatch SA, a Swiss start-up, has successfully closed last December an oversubscribed first financing round at CHF 1.2 million to accelerate the development of its solution on biometric authentication for wearables. This seed round is following a CHF 800k grant from the CTI in last February and a CHF 100k loan from the FIT last June. It was led by serial entrepreneur and business angel Patrick Delarive with participation from the Venture Capital fund Polytech Ecosystem Ventures and SICPA Finance. Further investments from various business angels completed the investment.

Idiap is alongside American giants with a tool that allows the "photoshopping" of voices
research — Nov 16, 2016

To speak Chinese without having to learn it or to being able to speak for yourself: these dreams may become reality thanks to the progress of speech synthesis. American informatics giants are working on it, with Adobe and its project VoCo. But they are not the only ones: the Idiap Research Institute of Martigny also specializes in this domain.

Biometrics: for better or for worse?
research — Oct 10, 2016

It is supposedly one of the most promising solutions for protecting us from terrorist attacks. Biometrics allows identifying a person by their biological characteristics like finger prints, the iris or the face. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, technological solutions have known a fast progress: facial recognition software, “cerebral fingerprinting”, automatic control systems for moving crowds…But can we really trust biometrics with our security? And above all, what happens if these data fall into the wrong hands?

Can science solve an 80-year-old Indian mystery?
research — Oct 10, 2016

Sébastien Marcel is an unlikely judge of beauty queens, but his face recognition expertise could finally solve the identity of an Indian woman on a precious Swiss watch.

Ivana Chingovska received the PhD degree from EPFL
education — Jun 13, 2016

Ivana Chingovska received the PhD degree from EPFL on May 2nd 2016 after the public defense of her doctoral dissertation entitled: "Trustworthy Biometric Verification under Spoofing Attacks: Application to the Face Mode".

The first Reproducible Research Survey in Face Recognition
research — Mar 11, 2016

Idiap published a book chapter entitled “Face Recognition in Challenging Environments: An Experimental and Reproducible Research Survey” appearing in the Springer book “Face Recognition Across the Imaging Spectrum”.

The BEAT platform goes Open Source
research — Mar 04, 2016

After 4 years of development, the BEAT platform is now available for download as an open-source project, under the Affero GNU GPL version 3.

Biometrics will make payments more secure
tech — Mar 02, 2016

Voice identification, facial recognition, fingerprint reading or heartbeat analysis: biometric identification methods will be used more and more this year on mobile phones and online payment platforms at the expense of the usual password.

New patent on vein anti-spoofing (PAD)
research — Feb 22, 2016

Idiap published on Feb 18 2016 a PCT patent on biometric vein anti-spoofing (also called presentation attack detection) under the reference WO/2016/023582.

The Idiap Research Institute is part of an EU project (TeSLA) to authenticate student identity online throughout the e-assessment process
research — Feb 08, 2016

The project TeSLA, led by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), with a length of three years and a budget of seven million euros, involves universities, quality assurance agencies, research centres and technology companies from twelve countries. In total, there will be a team of around eighty professionals and eighteen months of largescale pilot tests with the participation of over 14,000 students from Europe.

License agreement signed between Idiap & EC’s Joint Research Center to experiment BEAT platform.
research — Jan 25, 2016

The BEAT platform is an European computing e-infrastructure for Open Science proposing a solution for open access, scientific information sharing and re-use including data and source code while protecting privacy and confidentiality. It allows easy online access to experimentation and testing in computational science. The platform also provides an attestation mechanism for your reports (scientific papers, technical documents or certifications).

How do we create standards ISO ? Answers at Idiap Research Institute in Martigny Switzerland
research — Jan 18, 2016

It is a Swiss premiere. The Idiap Research Institute in Martigny receives this week delegates from all around the world that have the task of creating the famous ISO standards. They will discuss about the standards in the domain of biometrics. The Idiap researcher Sébastien Marcel explains the procedure and the stakes of this scientific meeting.

Idiap has a new opening for a Post-doctoral position on 3D finger-vein biometrics
education — Jan 14, 2016

The Idiap Research Institute invites applications for one post-doctoral position in biometrics. The position is funded by a new 18-month research project on 3D finger-vein sensing and recognition. The research will be carried out together with a Swiss consortium of one high-profile research institute and one company.

The fight against identity theft
research — Nov 04, 2015

A new research project will provide authentication and secure access to banking and other services over broadband and mobile networks by using biometric identifiers.

New version of biometric tools for face and speaker recognition released
research — Jul 17, 2015

The Biometric group at Idiap Research Institute is releasing its new version of biometric tools for face and speaker recognition, including a number of state-of-the-art preprocessing, feature extraction, machine learning algorithms, evaluation metrics and database protocols.

Idiap Biometrics group participated to a Google ATAP research sprint
research — Jun 01, 2015

The Biometrics group was chosen by Google to participate to a confidential on-invitation-only research sprint on mobile biometrics along with more than 20 experts from 16 institutions worldwide. The group was able to carry out biometrics research on a 40 Tb dataset from 1500 data subjects.

Best Biometrics Student Paper Award to L. El Shafey, E. Khoury, and S. Marcel
research — Oct 02, 2014

On 02 October 2014, the submitted paper by L. El Shafey, E. Khoury, and S. Marcel : "Audio-visual gender recognition in uncontrolled environment using variability modeling techniques" was awarded IAPR (International Association for Pattern Recognition) Best Biometrics Student Paper Award at the International Joint Conference on Biometrics 2014 (IJCB, 2014 29 September - 2 October 2014 at Clearwater, Florida, USA).

Can Biometrics Defeat Cyberterrorists?
research — Jun 11, 2014

At Switzerland's Idiap Research Institute, one man is on the front lines of the fight against cyberterrorism. He's an expert in biometrics. The more individual the biometric, the more difficult it is to attack.

Biometric vein recognition under attack
research — Jun 04, 2014

Vein recognition is a biometric that has traditionally been seen as difficult to hack or spoof, as the biometric patterns created by the vein structure in a person’s finger are hidden from view.

Sébastien Marcel, head of Biometrics group at Idiap, interviewed by RTS, the Swiss radio.
research — Sep 24, 2013

L’iPhone 5S possède un lecteur à empreintes digitales qui permettra de sécuriser l’accès au téléphone. Si cette technique est déjà présente dans d’autres objets, il s’agit du premier produit de consommation de masse à intégrer la biométrie. Mais quelle est la partie du corps qui se prête le mieux à la reconnaissance d’une personne dans la vie quotidienne?

TABULA RASA Spoofing Challenge, June 4-7, 2013 Madrid Spain
research — Dec 05, 2012

The TABULA RASA project is organizing a Spoofing Challenge and is inviting researchers to develop ingenious attack plans and to deceive various biometric authentications systems of different modalities that will be demonstrated at the 6th International Conference of Biometrics (ICB 2013 ). The most brilliant attempt, which will be decided on its spoofing success and originality, will be awarded with the "Best Spoofing Attack Award", accompanied by an incentive prize.

The LASEC lab and Idiap beat to the rhythm of a new common project
research — Mar 29, 2012

Idiap announced the start this month of the Biometrics Evaluation and Testing (BEAT) project funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) with the EPFL as a full partner, through the Security and Cryptography Laboratory (LASEC) of Prof. Vaudenay.

BEAT: New FP7 project on Security coordinated by Idiap
research — Mar 07, 2012

We are glad to announce the start this month of the Biometrics Evaluation and Testing (BEAT) project funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) with Sébastien Marcel as the Principal Investigator and Project Coordinator at the Idiap research institute.