Military researchers ask industry to develop long-range biometrics and facial recognition algorithms

Jan. 8, 2021
BRIAR aims to develop algorithm-based systems capable of performing whole-body biometric identification at long-range and from elevated platforms.

WASHINGTON – U.S. intelligence researchers are asking industry to develop facial recognition systems able to detect and identify people at long ranges from elevated platforms like aircraft, towers, and tall buildings.

Officials of the Intelligence Research Projects Agency (IARPA) in Washington have released a broad agency announcement (IARPA-BAA-20-04) for the Biometric Recognition and Identification at Altitude and Range (BRIAR) program.

The BRIAR program aims to develop software algorithm-based systems capable of performing whole-body biometric identification at long-range and from elevated platforms.

Intelligence agencies and the military need the ability to identify or recognize individuals at distances farther than 300 meters through atmospheric turbulence, or from elevated and aerial sensor platforms like towers or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). BRIAR will be a four-year effort, beginning about 1 Aug. 2021 through 31 July 2025.

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BRIAR will pursue cutting-edge research into biometric recognition algorithms to develop innovations in whole-body biometrics that fuse facial recognition with other biometric signatures, and will focus on visible wavelength imagery only.

Research outcomes are to support missions such as counter terrorism, protection of critical infrastructure and transportation facilities, military force protection, and border security.

Performers will develop algorithms able to perform biometric verification, recognition, and identification of people in visible-band video imagery captured under challenging range, atmospheric, and view conditions.

These algorithms will perform person and face detection, association across video frames, and multi-image template generation. The developed systems must perform biometric matching on unconstrained imagery in several modes: face only, whole-body, and a fusion of facial recognition and whole-body.

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Performers will not develop custom optical sensors, sensor systems, or sensor platforms, but instead will focus on advancing state-of-the-art hardware-agnostic whole-body biometric recognition software.

IARPA researchers initially want to develop a biometric system able to identify people out to 1,000 meters at several pitch angles; mitigate the effects of atmospheric turbulence and image degradation; adapt algorithms to edge processing with restricted computing resources; process streaming imagery and generate results at real-time speeds; and adjust for changes in sensor platform and optics.

Support for the BRIAR program is from the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory; U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR Center Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate; and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Companies interested should email proposals no later than 24 Feb. 2021 at [email protected]. Email questions or concerns to [email protected]. More information is online at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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