Iris Scanners & Recognition
Iris cameras perform recognition detection of a person’s identity by mathematical analysis of the random patterns that are visible within the iris of an eye from some distance. It combines computer vision, pattern recognition, statistical inference and optics.
Of all the biometric devices and scanners available today, it is generally conceded that iris recognition is the most accurate. The automated method of iris recognition is relatively young, existing in patent since only 1994.
The iris is the coloured ring around the pupil of every human being and like a snowflake, no two are alike. Each are unique in their own way, exhibiting a distinctive pattern that forms randomly in utero, n a process called chaotic morphogenesis. The iris is a muscle that regulates the size of the pupil, controlling the amount of light that enters the eye.
Iris recognition is rarely impeded by glasses or contact lenses and can be scanned from 10cm to a few meters away. The iris remains stable over time as long as there are no injuries and a single enrolment scan can last a lifetime.
Some medical and surgical procedures can affect the overall shape and colour of an iris but the fine texture remains stable over many decades. Even blind people can use this scan technology since iris recognition technology is iris pattern-dependent not sight dependent.
Iris scanning is an ideal way of biometric identification since the iris is an internal organ that is largely protected by damage and wear by the cornea. This makes it more attractive then fingerprints which can be difficult to recognize after several years of certain types of manual labour.
The iris is also mostly flat and controlled by 2 muscles so it helps make the iris movements more predictable then facial recognition. Even genetically identical twins have completely different iris patterns.
Iris cameras, in general, take a digital photo of the iris pattern and recreating an encrypted digital template of that pattern. That encrypted template cannot be re-engineered or reproduced in any sort of visual image. Iris recognition therefore affords the highest level defence against identity theft, the most rapidly growing crime.
The imaging process involves no lasers or bright lights and authentication is essentially non-contact. Today’s commercial iris cameras use infrared light to illuminate the iris without causing harm or discomfort to the subject.
Before scanning of the iris takes place, the iris is located using landmark features. These landmark features, and the distinct shape of the iris allow for imaging, feature isolation and extraction. Localization of the iris is an important step in iris recognition because, if done improperly, resultant noise (i.e.: eyelashes, reflections, pupils and eyelids) in the image may lead to poor performance.
The general uses of iris recognition so far have been: substituting for passports (automated international border crossing); aviation security and controlling access to restricted areas at airports; database access and computer login; premises access control; hospital settings including mother-infant pairing in maternity wards; "watch list" screening at border crossings; and it is under consideration for biometrically enabled National Identity Cards.
Having only become automated and available within the last decade, the iris recognition concept and industry are still relatively new. Through the determination and commitment of the iris industry and government evaluations, growth and progress will continue.