SPECIAL OPERATIONS

SOCOM Seeks Smartphone App for Fingerprint Data

6/28/2019
By Connie Lee

Photo: iStock

Special Operations Command is developing an application that would allow warfighters to collect biometric information — such as fingerprints — with their smartphones, according to an official.

The application would have touchless fingerprint technology, said Glen Cullen, the command’s program manager for sensitive site exploitation within the program executive office for special reconnaissance, surveillance and exploitation. This would reduce inconsistencies associated with traditional systems, which employ sensors that do not always capture the information on the first try.

“We want to turn it into an app on a phone so that you basically are taking a picture of the ... person’s fingerprints,” he told National Defense at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida. “We feel we’re leading the way with [touchless technology] because everything now that people are using [requires putting] your fingers in physical contact with some type of sensor.”

Using the application is also expected to reduce costs and eliminate the need to carry larger tactical devices for gathering personally identifiable information for intelligence operations, he noted.

“That means that anybody who’s got a cell phone can now collect fingerprints from somebody,” Cullen said. “We’re hoping that that’s going to drive the price down. Instead of paying for a device, we’re just going to be paying for an app.”

The organization released a request for information and held an event in March to examine work from multiple vendors, he noted. SOCOM plans to downselect to one vendor next spring. Another request for information may be released in the next couple of months. Fielding is slated for early 2021, he said. The command has not named the app yet.

SOCOM’s fingerprint technologies differ from those used by law enforcement because they must be robust enough to work in rough environments, he noted.

“When you talk about a law enforcement person versus us, they’re not in the extreme, … austere locations that we are,” Cullen said. “We need to make sure our stuff is ruggedized, that it can operate in a whole gamut of temperatures, humidity, etc.

Topics: Special Operations

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