Peter O’Neill, President of FindBiometrics, recently had the chance to speak with Dr. Daehoon Kim, CEO of IriTech – an iris biometrics company that will be exhibiting its technologies at the upcoming Global Identity Summit (GIS) in Tampa, and the China Public Security Expo in Shenzhen. The following interview details some of IriTech’s new and upcoming releases, the solutions the company will be showcasing at said industry events, the challenges it has addressed in commercial iris recognition and why the it is excited about the automotive biometrics industry.
Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics (FB): We have heard that you are going to launch a new product line this year. Can you please tell us a little more about this?
Dr. Daehoon Kim, CEO, IriTech (IT): We have several products; the first is the IriShield Series. The IriShield Series is an embedded iris identification camera system. The major customers are government agencies in India, USA and Africa for defense, border control and national ID projects.
The second product, the Gemini System, which we are going to launch in few months, captures both iris and facial images simultaneously with a single camera module. The capturing distance of this camera is around 40 to 60 and could be extended up to 100cm. Its usability was significantly improved with fast and easy capturing to make it an ideal solution for access control, especially in high traffic areas such as border control points.
Our third product line is our NIST proven iris recognition server software – mainly for immigration and some government applications such as national ID programs. This system is already installed in the US government and thus we foresee other governments implementing similar projects with our software in the near future.
And the last one, which everyone thinks is going to be strong in the very near future, is the mobile device with iris. India is running a POC for this as it is now the fastest growing smartphone market where iris is already used for resident management under the UIDAI. We are strategically approaching this market with camera module manufacturers and smartphones manufacturers.
FB: Has this been a very good year for IriTech? Which geographic regions are good for you?
IT: We are seeing a rapid increase in orders from India, where IriTech is the major vendor for iris cameras to the UIDAI. Also, our recent achievement with the US Government is starting to ramp up our revenue. I would say these two countries are our major markets and worth focusing as many other countries are benchmarking their biometric schemes. Besides that, another big achievement that we should be proud of is that our camera has been selected by UNHCR to identify refugees around the world.
FB: You mentioned the use of biometrics in mobile technology and I know that, as you mentioned, IriTech successfully developed the prototype of iris recognition on mobile devices a few years ago. How is that going and what specific markets are you aiming at for this particular part of your business?
IT: We now have iris identification systems installed in smartphones, tablets and smartwatches. There will be a myriad of applications from having authentication on smart devices as you know. For example, IoT (Internet of Things) security is one of the big applications, as are mobile payments. The mobile payment market is a very big market. Another one is that a lot of people use smartphones, tablets, and PC’s for important business applications, so security of the software and files found on these devices is also very important, and therefore protection of these devices using our iris recognition is ideal.
However, there are few challenges in developing an iris camera for smartphones. We are addressing these problems with our camera module manufacturing partners and mobile device partners. I can tell you that you will see iris recognition smartphones from IriTech by next year.
FB: It is interesting that you mentioned the payment market, I am chairing a panel at the Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas this October, which is the hottest payment show out there, and we know that the interest for biometrics in the payment industry is very high given the increases in mobile usage with biometrics. It is not just the payments industry; biometrics is getting hotter in all sorts of commercial applications as well. There are opportunities and challenges. Do you have plans to take advantage of these opportunities in the commercial side of things moving forward?
IT: When it comes to the commercial sector, the must-have conditions for a widespread adoption of the product are cost efficiency and usability and these are the main challenges of iris recognition technology in the past. Another big obstacle is that the device must work well under bright sunlight conditions. However, we have completely solved these problems which will be a strong foundation and major advantage for us to move rapidly to the commercial industry.
On the commercial side, our focus for the next few years will be mobile payment, IoT and automotive industry. For mobile payment and IoT sectors, the security control is critical for the development of these. In most cases, it is not easy that everyone brings a special device for the IoT security control, so smartphone or wearable device is the best way for this. And an iris identification system installed inside these devices will be an optimal solution for IoT security. As I mentioned before, we are aggressively pushing the integration of iris camera into smartphone with few partners and expect to bring the device to market next year.
For the automotive sector, this is a relatively new industry for biometrics, however, it is very promising for us. You probably heard in the news recently that a car network was hacked. Some important components of the car were controlled by the network that had been hacked. This can cause a serious accident for the car. Apparently, there will be a rising need for car security in the coming time. I cannot tell you the names but several auto manufacturers have contacted us for iris identification for inside the car. We can provide a system that not only authorizes a valid person to drive the car but also uses Bluetooth or other systems to ensure full security for inside the car. In addition to this kind of system, we can provide some services for the driver safety. For example, if the driver is sleepy, our camera can detect when the eyelids are closing for a period of time and send a warning to alert the driver. Hence, our system can do two things: identification and detection in only one camera.
FB: Well, it seems you’re very excited to be involved in the automotive market.
IT: Yes, you are right. In another note, with car applications it is important that the driver doesn’t have to align his eyes on the camera system for iris identification. While driving it is impossible for the driver to do that, so in such a case the iris camera should be positioned on the side and captured images automatically even when the driver’s head is moving. The camera should be able to follow the movement of the iris and iris identification should be done in real time and, as I said, also work under bright sunlight conditions as well as at night. Those are several serious restrictions for car application and I can competently say IriTech is the only company that has solved such challenges.
FB: I think you are planning on attending the Global Identity Summit this week in Tampa and the China Public Security Expo in Shenzhen, China next month, what products will you be showcasing at those events?
IT: We are planning on showing our current products: IriShield series, IriMagic series and also the Gemini System. The Gemini System is the face and iris product with one iris camera system. We will also show several applications, for example, cloud services.
FB: You certainly have a lot going on with your company Dr. Kim. Congratulations on a very successful year and I look forward to seeing you in Tampa next week where I will get a chance to try out some of your new technology and see it first-hand. Thank you again for taking the opportunity to speaking with us today.
IT: Thank you Peter!