Boston businesses promote selfies for safety in Austin

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Photo Credit: Jacky Tovar | Daily Texan Staff
  • To give the convenience of ridesharing back to drivers and riders after Austin’s rejection of Proposition 1, two Boston businesses are bringing selfies to the rescue.
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  • Starting on August 1, all Austin transportation network companies will be required to have at least half of their drivers fingerprinted. Confirm.io, an identity verification company, partnered with MorphoTrust, which owns the Texas contract for FBI fingerprinting, to design software that will help drivers comply.
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  • Kyle Kilcoyne, Director of Marketing at Confirm.io, said that ridesharing companies Get Me and Arcade City already plan to integrate the partnership’s services into their applications using Confirm.io’s software development kit, or SDK.
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  • “Our solution helps decrease driver enrollment time while also enhancing driver identity architecture,” Kilcoyne said.
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  • Instead of going to the DPS, drivers can complete the identity verification process by taking a selfie to match their photo ID. Both photos are taken using the software designed by Confirm.io that scans facial texture, shape and skin for comparison.
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  • MorphoTrust is also incorporating a blinking “liveness” test into the selfie to confirm that the selfie is being taken in real time. If the software  determines the two match, license information is provided to the ridesharing company, who then registers the driver for a background check. According to Confirm.io’s website, the process runs without a human and takes only six seconds.
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  • After identity approval, drivers are required to visit a MorphoTrust IdentoGO center for fingerprinting. There is currently one such center in Austin. IdentoGO claims a turnaround of several days, but Confirm.io hopes to expedite the process by providing an IdentoGO appointment booking service. That way, the entire driver checking process will be incorporated into one platform.
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  • Kilcoyne said that another time saving feature of Confirm.io’s software is its digital onboarding platform, which quickly signs up drivers with ridesharing programs. Some ridesharing companies still hire Driver Onboarding Specialists to recruit, sign up and orient new drivers with their apps.
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  • “Physical onboarding is time consuming and laborious for the ridesharing companies,” Kilcoyne said.
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  • Kilcoyne said that with Confirm.io’s platform, onboarding is completely digital.
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  • Ralph Rodriguez, CTO of Confirm.io and MIT Fellow, said that the integrated SDK performs digital forensic tests on driver's licenses and passports at a high success rate.
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  • “With a high quality uncompressed image we can detect over 99 percent of all fake IDs,” Rodriguez said.
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  • The facial recognition technology is built by MorphoTrust, who makes similar solutions for border patrol and U.S. Customs.
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  • “We’re excited about taking this high grade technology to a consumer market. It’s a new step for Confirm.io and MorphTrust,” Kilcoyne said.
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  • Kilcoyne said that  the most challenging part of identity verification has been obtaining quality user submitted images from mobile devices. Photos taken with glare or low light are difficult to scan for security features. While the recommended resolution for the ID scan is compatible with most common phones, some mobile devices may not be able to capture a quality image. For now, drivers can use the technology on any phone, but Confirm.io will soon add DeviceID, which will verify that the user is the owner of the phone to add an aditional layer of security.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  • Confirm.io’s mobile solution can be used for any transaction that benefits from proof of identity, extending their product beyond the ride-sharing market. Kilcoyne said that selfies may be the future of online shopping. For example, Amazon recently patented technology that would allow users to purchase goods with facial recognition instead of a password. Confirm.io is looking into similar avenues. No longer just fun attention grabbers, selfies have gotten serious.