January 9, 2014 – Peter B. Counter
Iris-based biometric security has a lot of advantages going for it. Devices that unlock after a positive iris match are contactless, quick and benefit from the fact that eyeballs are incredibly difficult to recreate, making these solutions incredibly difficult to spoof.
Generally you can expect to find iris scanning in places that have to manage large populations. A prime example is Winthrop University, an American school that tracks attendance through the use of its EagleEye stations, that with a glance from a student can match irises to the templates enrolled on registration.
This said, it’s not often that you hear about personal access control enabled by iris biometrics, but at this year’s 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) in Las Vegas, it seems to be the talk of the town.
EyeLock, Inc., an iris biometrics company that has traditionally provided technology to enterprise level customers, announced this week that it will be throwing its hat into the consumer security race with Myris: a dongle that allows any PC or Mac user to do away with usernames and passwords in favor of eye contact.
The peripheral is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8 and Mac OS, as well as Chrome OS (for all of you Chromebook users out there) and is expected to be available on store shelves before the year is half over. On display at CES 2014, Myris resembles a circular computer mouse: a long USB cable terminates in a smart looking circle with the name on top, but where the trackball would be on a mouse (the underside) there is a sensor and mirror that ensures the user is looking in the proper place for a positive match to occur.
To use the authentication device, an enrolled user (of which there can be a total of five per device) simply holds the sensor in front of the correct eye, looks into the mirror, and a green light indicates that the iris has been accepted. This can be done at any juncture requiring authentication, effectively scrubbing passwords from a user’s life once Myris has been granted access.
Anthony Antonio, CEO of EyeLock, speaks to the need that Myris fulfills thusly: “People are required to remember dozens of passwords in an effort to secure their data, while organizations and individuals are in a constant struggle to keep their digital, social and financial transactions safe from compromise, breach and theft. Until service providers take the step to eliminate usernames and passwords, Myris enables users to set passwords as complex as they’d like and forget them once linked to the device.”
If it sounds extremely easy to use, that’s because it is. This personal iris scanner has been approved by the FIDO Alliance, an organization that is very vocal about the high standards it holds for both security and end-user accessibility. Expected to sell for about $200 to $300 when released, Myris is just the beginning as EyeLock has indicated that it has its eye on a more aggressive push into the consumer market by making the SDK for its proprietary technology available last summer.