Monday, February 25, 2008


Yes, there is a "Biometric Markup Language"

I need to more strongly impress upon my Document Engineering students that whenever they encounter a case study in which information or messages are buzzing around they should look for an XML specification that defines them. In the recent post about “ Smart Fitness Machines" Michael Lee and Jim Miller write about an interesting application of biometric technology to identify users of fitness equipment so that information about workouts can be easily tracked. Jim optimistically says that “they claim it is "open," and the company, Fitlinxx has agreements with various equipment manufacturers, so they have apparently achieved some degree of interoperability."

I always say that "the best thing about XML is that ease with which you can create a new vocabulary” and that the worst thing “is the same as the best thing: the ease with which you can create a new vocabulary." So it never surprises me to find some XML vocabulary that purports to encode information models in any domain. But I guess my students can't yet imagine this unchecked proliferation of XML and so they didn’t look to find a relevant XML spec after reading about this clever new stuff in the fitness industry.

Two of the stops in the “ Scavenger Hunt" that the students are currently undertaking to get some familiarity with reference models and pattern repositories useful in document engineering are the Cover Pages list of XML applications and OASIS, the global standards organization where a great many of the XML vertical specifications are incubated. I've looked at the former many times, and I'm on the board of directors of the latter, so I'm familiar with the XML spec development underway there. And sure enough, at OASIS there's a Biometric Markup Language standard already in place ("Providing a standard way to describe information that verifies identity based on human characteristics such as DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, and hand geometry") that would be the spec that Fitlinxx would be using if it knew how to make good use of XML.

I'll have to give my "best/worst thing about XML" speech in my lecture this Wednesday when I start talking about “Models of Business Information.”

--Bob Glushko

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