Before heading to Las Vegas next week for the ISC West conference (April 2-4), findBIOMETRICS president Peter O’Neill had a chance to catch up with Mohammed Murad, vice president of sales at Iris ID Systems and talk about biometric deployments in education, at the Canadian borders and, of course, the company’s involvement with India’s Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an extension of the government’s in charge of forwarding the country’s national ID Aadhaar initiative.
Iris ID will be on the ISC West exhibition floor, so those wanting a closer look at the technology and ideas described in the interview should be sure to stop by the company’s booth #17115.
Peter O’Neill (fB): You provide your technology and services to NEC for the India UIDAI program, please provide our readers with an update on this very large deployment.
Mohammed Murad (Iris ID): We have been involved with the UIDAI program since the beginning and we have been providing our technology for both matching and capture to different vendors. We started with the backend matching program in 2010 and it has been continued on. It is one of the largest biometric matching and data collection programs in the world today. What we have been hearing is that the backend population of enrollees has grown to about 500 million plus. So looking at that number you can see that it is one of the largest programs in the world for biometrics. We initially provided our technology to Accenture for the first phase of the project and now we are under a business agreement with NEC to provide them our technology to continue the program.
fB: That is a pretty quick enrollment when you consider the number of people and the short amount of time. It is pretty incredible isn’t it?
Iris ID: Yes it is pretty incredible and you have to say that, the way they have used paid services to provide enrollment, it really has provided good results for them on the size of the enrollment and speed of deployment of the technology. Now they are looking at using that enrollment for identity authentication applications. Those applications will start surfacing in the next twelve to eighteen months that will truly change the paradigm for iris technology.
fB: I think that style will be true of a lot of global deployments where countries are utilizing biometrics for one area and then recognizing that they can be used for all sorts of other programs as well.
Iris ID: Yes absolutely, especially in the developing countries where documenting the citizen has been a fairly big challenge. Any number of countries that are looking at identity management as one of the factors to identify their citizens are looking at how they can enroll all these people and then provide them with future services such as healthcare, financial, any number of services that require a citizen to identify themselves and that they deserve those services that are extended to the citizens of that country. Essentially by having that token they believe they own the piece of countries promise.
fB: You introduced the iCAM D1000 last year, what are the main features of this new product?
Iris ID: Well the introduction and the driver of the technology was: “How can we make it efficient for people to use the technology without telling them how to use it”. So the idea is that we have a mirror, a simple user interface, I look at myself in the mirror and within a couple of seconds it takes a picture of the eyes and the face. The first customer that we have provided this to is Qatar, for their immigration, border crossing and other types of kiosks where you don’t need to have an operator available for people to use it. So you will see the adoption of this technology in those applications that require very limited instructions provided to the user because you want to process people quickly. People that have just gotten off of a 12-14 hour flight don’t want to spend any more than a couple of minutes at the immigration counter. It also then becomes a part of the overall safety and security architecture of a country where they can identify very quickly the known people and the ones they would like to keep out.
fB: I had an opportunity to test this product at your exhibit area at the Biometric Consortium Conference last year and indeed the user interface was very, very easy. Biometrics are also being used in the Time and Attendance market, can you describe your solutions in this area?
Iris ID: You know biometrics in time and attendance is not something new. There have been other technologies that have made a very big push into that space and have been very successful. Some of those other technologies are getting old and the requirement for identification in biometrics has become very sophisticated, so to address those we believe that iris has a really nice fit into that space. We are also getting this request from many customers around the globe where they want to have a non-contact biometric for time and attendance applications. So we have taken steps to do that. You are familiar with our iCam7000 series product line which has been very popular for access control and other identity applications, so we have taken the approach that we will take that product line and introduce a new piece of software iCAM ManagerTM that will allow our customers to have a very focused time and attendance application built by independent software vendors. Additionally we have extended that reach so you can have an attendance application running in the cloud and utilize the iCAMCloudConnect technology part of iCAM Manager SDK where you can manage the user population, transactions and interact with the device away from the office. So it is really a complete solution for time and attendance that we are offering now. This allows us to connect iris applications from mobile to back office. By the release of iCAM Manager SDK we are broadening our eco system of partners.
fB: What about the educational market? I know that schools and universities are a growth area, are you also seeing this as a growth market?
Iris ID: Yes we actually are seeing that as a growth market not just in the States but globally. We have seen great interest and we have done some very significant deployments in the educational market in the USA and other countries and we are starting to see that they are looking to extend that beyond just the back office applications. They want to identify students before they take SAT types of exams and to make sure the appropriate people are attending. We are seeing great interest and in the last 24 months there has been a lot of activity, which was not there earlier. In recent months we have deployed IrisAccess platform at two major universities in USA for student identification for cafeteria services.
fB: You have also done some work with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), can you tell us about this?
Iris ID: You know Peter, we have been involved with many border crossing and border management applications with iris around the globe such as Schiphol airport, UAE, Qatar, Saudi and we have been part of some of the US visit test pilots here in the United States. In the 2003-4 timeframe, we were part of the US Clear program pilot as well. So CBSA is basically, we believe, a continuation of some of those efforts that we have made. Last year CBSA selected us to provide, with IBM, our technology for their Nexus program where they have kiosks and our devices are going to be in those kiosks. We are providing them our Iris Accelerator backend technology for 1:N search, so registered travellers will be able use the kiosk to gain entry into the country without stopping at a border police counter. We are very excited about this because this shows faith in the technology and the accuracy of the system and in North America they are continuing to grow the Nexus program and continuing to use Iris ID technology.
fB: That is a very exciting program and as a Canadian I know it is a popular service to travellers. What can we expect to see from Iris ID in the coming year?
Iris ID: Our roadmap is full of new and exciting technologies. We are looking in multiple areas and, as iris recognition grows, vertical applications in markets such as healthcare and within healthcare, time and attendance or patient registration etc. All of those applications are starting to surface and we are trying to focus more on the vertical application side of the business and not just horizontal identity management applications. So you will hear and see many exciting relationships that we will be establishing in the coming year and providing new technology in those verticals.
Please visit us at ISC West April 2-4 in Las Vegas to learn more.
fB: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today.
Iris ID: It has been my pleasure Peter, I look forward to seeing you at ISC West.