Thermal imaging as a biometrics approach to facial signature authentication

Ana M Guzman Tamayo, Florida International University


This dissertation develops an image processing framework with unique feature extraction and similarity measurements for human face recognition in the thermal mid-wave infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The goals of this research is to design specialized algorithms that would extract facial vasculature information, create a thermal facial signature and identify the individual. The objective is to use such findings in support of a biometrics system for human identification with a high degree of accuracy and a high degree of reliability. This last assertion is due to the minimal to no risk for potential alteration of the intrinsic physiological characteristics seen through thermal infrared imaging. The proposed thermal facial signature recognition is fully integrated and consolidates the main and critical steps of feature extraction, registration, matching through similarity measures, and validation through testing our algorithm on a database, referred to as C-X1, provided by the Computer Vision Research Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame. Feature extraction was accomplished by first registering the infrared images to a reference image using the functional MRI of the Brain’s (FMRIB’s) Linear Image Registration Tool (FLIRT) modified to suit thermal infrared images. This was followed by segmentation of the facial region using an advanced localized contouring algorithm applied on anisotropically diffused thermal images. Thermal feature extraction from facial images was attained by performing morphological operations such as opening and top-hat segmentation to yield thermal signatures for each subject. Four thermal images taken over a period of six months were used to generate thermal signatures and a thermal template for each subject, the thermal template contains only the most prevalent and consistent features. Finally a similarity measure technique was used to match signatures to templates and the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to validate the results of the matching process. Thirteen subjects were used for testing the developed technique on an in-house thermal imaging system. The matching using an Euclidean-based similarity measure showed 88% accuracy in the case of skeletonized signatures and templates, we obtained 90% accuracy for anisotropically diffused signatures and templates. We also employed the Manhattan-based similarity measure and obtained an accuracy of 90.39% for skeletonized and diffused templates and signatures. It was found that an average 18.9% improvement in the similarity measure was obtained when using diffused templates. The Euclidean- and Manhattan-based similarity measure was also applied to skeletonized signatures and templates of 25 subjects in the C-X1 database. The highly accurate results obtained in the matching process along with the generalized design process clearly demonstrate the ability of the thermal infrared system to be used on other thermal imaging based systems and related databases. A novel user-initialization registration of thermal facial images has been successfully implemented. Furthermore, the novel approach at developing a thermal signature template using four images taken at various times ensured that unforeseen changes in the vasculature did not affect the biometric matching process as it relied on consistent thermal features.

Subject Area

Engineering|Electrical engineering

Recommended Citation

Guzman Tamayo, Ana M, "Thermal imaging as a biometrics approach to facial signature authentication" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3502147.