As facial recognition becomes more and more popular in security surveillance, the U.S. government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) continues to hunt for more sophisticated identification techniques, according to New Scientist magazine and International Science Times.

The agency has challenged top research teams to a competition, announced Nov. 8, to revolutionize how machines recognize people.

Facial biometric recognition works well on clear images with a good view of the face, but much additional data is often discarded due to the fact that the face, or the full face, is not clearly visible. The discarded data contains “soft” biometrics, such as height, gait and other features, such as ears.

The use of advanced soft biometrics could result in faster and more flexible tracking that could assist law enforcement and security in events such as the Boston Marathon bombing.