Insights & Analyses

Element Inc. & Global Good Fund to create biometric health ID system for infants & children

October 31, 2017

In an effort to ensure proper medical treatment for children who lack proper identification, Element Inc. and the Global Good Fund have come together to develop a smartphone-based biometric platform for identifying infants and children.

Biometric software maker Element Inc. will utilize the global health expertise of Global Good, creating health systems that can recognize users from birth into adulthood.

The companies noted in announcing their partnership that nearly one in four children under the age of five are not registered at birth. The new system will identify the unique biological characteristics of infants and children — an issue that has presented technical problems for other non-touch biometric platforms.

For example, Apple’s highly anticipated Face ID technology on iPhone X is not reliable on children under the age of 13, because their distinct facial features may not have fully developed. The inability to reliably identify younger children has made them poor candidates for biometric IDs, something Element and Global Good hope to change.

In parntership with the Matlab Health Research Centre in Bangladesh and the Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia, the two companies intend to test a range of biometric systems to determine which is most suitable for infants and young children. Specific methods cited in Tuesday’s announcment include fingerprints, irises, palmprints, ears, and feet.

“Expanding Element’s cutting-edge biometric methods to infants and children could transform the way clinicians and their patients manage health delivery records,” Global Good & Research Executive Vice President Maurizio Vecchione said. “Not only would it improve the level of care we provide to the world’s most vulnerable patients, it could also lay a basis for the promised digital revolution in clinical management.”

Element’s platform is powered by advances in deep learning algorithm development it helped create as one of the first mobile deep learning focused software companies. Its adult solutions for palm and facial recognition work without wireless connectivity, which can make them better suited for identifying people in countries with large populations but limited internet access.

“At Element, we aim to deliver identity to the billions who need it. The opportunity to meet people where they are, across the nearly three billion smartphones in the world today, is particularly profound, and can change models of service delivery,” said Element Chief Executive and cofounder Adam Perold. “In the dozens of countries our partners operate in, mobile software-based digital identity has the power to be transformative, providing greater access to key health and financial resources. With Global Good, we’re excited to apply this commercial solution to people at the earliest stages of life, addressing an unsolved identity problem with broad implications for healthcare delivery.”