Researchers at the CyLab Biometrics Center at Carnegie Mellon University have developed an iris recognition system capable of identifying individuals from 40 feet away, according to a Discovery News article by Glenn McDonald.
The research team has demonstrated their system in a video depicting its potential application at a traffic stop. The system is actually able to identify the car’s driver through its side-view mirror, all apparently within a couple of minutes. While the hardware is somewhat bulky – looking similar to a movie camera in the video – presumably the system could be further refined and scaled down to a smaller size for widespread deployments.
Remarkable though the technology may be, this development will likely be somewhat alarming to many privacy and civil liberties advocates. Discussion around equipping police with body cameras has already led to considerable debate, and it stands to reason that the idea of a biometric system capable of identifying individuals much more quickly and effectively than any human could will be cause for concern.
In any case, biometric technology is undoubtedly of great use to law enforcement and security agencies, and deployments in such areas as border control can lead to some major breakthroughs in criminal investigations and the like. It’s easy to imagine some useful applications of the CMU team’s technology, but it’s also easy to imagine some dangerous ones, and the researchers will likely need to do both as they push their work forward.
April 23, 2015 – by Alex Perala