SRI International showcases its iris recognition technology at ISC West

Ease of use and high throughput rates make this biometric a popular choice

As more and more organizations seek answers to their weak identification management and credentialing problems, biometric technology is enjoying a resurgence as a mainstream security solution. But in the pecking order of preferred methods, iris recognition has emerged as a technology of choice for many enterprise and critical infrastructure facilities.

There have been some issues among potential adopters of the technology, who occasionally confuse iris recognition with retinal scanning. Iris recognition however is a simple process of capturing a picture of the iris; it is this picture that is used solely for authentication.

For Mark Clifton, SRI International’s vice president of products and services division, there is no mystery why biometrics in general and iris recognition in particular, have become the predominant method of verifying identification. “The barriers for adopting a biometric solution –especially those for iris recognition have been eliminated,” he said, standing in his booth during Thursday’s second day of the ISC West 2014 conference in Las Vegas. “The negative aspects of iris that included ease of use and the high cost of implementation have been addressed and for the most part, eliminated.”

Clifton pointed out that the false acceptance rate, which is the probability that an identification system incorrectly matches the biometric input pattern to a non-matching template in its database, has improved for almost every available biometric. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, fingerprints had a false acceptance rate of approximately eight percent; facial recognition was about five percent; hand geometry was two percent; and iris pattern recognition was one percent. Clifton added that in an increasingly tense post 9/11 world, where precise identification is vital, iris recognition is by far the most precise means to get that mission accomplished.

“Within the last several years, new technology has overcome the barriers to entry that challenged the use of iris pattern recognition as a tool for verifying identification. Previously, almost all iris identification systems required that the individual get within a few inches of the imaging device, almost forcing the eye to touch the camera” said Clifton “So the user had to be highly cooperative, as this functional space violated most personal comfort zones. These systems were not easy to use.”

But SRI’s introduction of Iris on the Move (IOM) iris recognition systems early last year has eliminated that issue, allowing these systems to access iris patterns from up to 10 feet away and at very high throughput rates.

Portal-type versions of Iris on the Move have processing speeds of 1,800 people per hour, making them ideal for locations such as airports, security checkpoints and other applications that require uncompromising identity verification for large numbers of people.

“The technology requires limited subject interaction and is unobtrusive and eye safe. All that is required from an individual is a glance to identify his or her iris. Capture is secure through eyeglasses, contact lens and most sunglasses,” Clifton said.

Clifton cited several key factors that have helped spur the growth of iris recognition. His list included:

  • Stability - the unique pattern in the human iris is formed by 10 months of age, and remains unchanged throughout one's lifetime
  • Uniqueness - the probability of two rises producing the same code is nearly impossible
  • Flexibility - iris recognition technology easily integrates into existing security systems or operates as a standalone
  • Reliability - a distinctive iris pattern is not susceptible to theft, loss or compromise
  • Non-Invasive nature - unlike retinal screening, iris recognition is non-contact and quick, offering unmatched accuracy when compared to any other security alternative, from distances as far as three to 10 inches.
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