Although an application area very much related to several of our other research themes, our interests in automated document analysis have identified some very important areas of research. We have worked on problems relating to a the analysis of several specific document types, most notably the processing of bank cheques, where the inherent document structure can be exploited to support the more reliable extraction of document data. This work has close connections with our research on high performance image analysis algorithms and with our work on handwritten data analysis.
Our principal interest, however, has been to seek to improve the security of electronic documents and to develop techniques to assist in the secure management of documents in a distributed environment. There have been two interrelated aspects to our work to date. First, we have developed a document model which is structured in such a way as to enable the easy incorporation of security features. In particular we have examined optimised ways of using biometric identity checking to control access to such documents. Second, we have begun to explore ways in which the extraction of biometric data can be used directly in the process of encrypting the content of an electronic document, and this is an idea which we will now be pursuing further following the award of funding to support the work.
Other work within this theme is concerned with the use of digital watermarking to protect and monitor documents.