Iris Recognition – The Eyes Have it in Surveillance Technology

A friend of mine has just returned to Australia after a trip to Canada. One of the things he mentioned about the trip through Customs was that the authorities scanned his eyes. While three dimensional or 3D facial recognition technology is advancing, the future of security surveillance is no longer just identifying the image you portray on the outside.

Just the other day I heard of this man who accidentally shot himself in the face. That in itself is an achievement but the point is that doctors operated on this man and were able to give him a new face. It was like a facial transplant. I saw the movie “Face Off” and instantly thought of the possibilities of disguise beyond any form of previous recognition. How would that scenario play out as a law enforcement logistics nightmare?

Airports are the crossroads for many travelers and one of our most vulnerable points of attack for terrorists. Surveillance technology is critical and when it comes to controlling borders, the eyes now have it. The name of the game is iris recognition.

Iris scans identify us by peering into our bodies. The technology is known as biometric based authentication. It is a mathematical system that uses the colored part of the eye to determine who you are. Even your other eye has its own unique pattern. The iris is the only internal organ easily visible from the outside and it has a pattern that never changes. Irises are ten times more accurate than fingerprints and much more reliable identifiers than faces. They serve as the ideal living passport.

John Daugman PH.D OBE of Cambridge University Computer Laboratory is the pioneer of iris recognition. A scanner shoots invisible red light into the eye to locate and isolate the iris. From this it plots the random patterns of the iris and constructs a mathematical equation called an iris code. This code can then be compared to a database of other codes and searches for a match.

This technology is popular because it is accurate, safe and easy to use. Glasses or contact lenses do not interfere with its operation. It is known as biometric security and plays a role in many applications where a persons identity must be established or confirmed.

* Security screening at airports worldwide.

* Border security.

* Control access to restricted areas such as government buildings.

* Children identification and location.

* Schools, hospitals and prisons.

The authorities at the United Arab Emirates Dubai International Airport scan more than seven thousand people each day. They count on the system to catch people trying to enter the country illegally. As eighty percent of those living in the United Arab Emirates come from overseas, all foreign visa holders are tracked against a database blacklist of more than half a million criminals and visa violators. The system has already caught more than twenty five thousand people trying to enter the country illegally.

While facial recognition technology is advancing, surveillance today is not just about identifying a face or an image of what you look like on the outside. Scientists agree that it is sometimes hard to tell one face from another as there just is not that much difference between them. Iris scanning technology as a form of security is accurate, quick and easy to use. Unlike your traditional passports which can be forged, iris recognition presents authorities with a unique method of authentication. Governments tell us that these technologies make us safer but where is it all leading?

By alpha