Part of the Application security glossary:

Iris recognition is a method of identifying people based on unique patterns within the ring-shaped region surrounding the pupil of the eye. The iris usually has a brown, blue, gray, or greenish color, with complex patterns that are visible upon close inspection. Because it makes use of a biological characteristic, iris recognition is considered a form of biometric verification.

In iris recognition, the identification process is carried out by gathering one or more detailed images of the eye with a sophisticated, high-resolution digital camera at visible or infrared (IR) wavelengths, and then using a specialized computer program called a matching engine to compare the subject's iris pattern with images stored in a database. The matching engine can compare millions of images per second with a level of precision comparable to conventional fingerprinting or digital fingerscanning.

In order for iris recognition to provide accurate and dependable results, the subject must be within a few meters of the camera. Some control mechanisms must be implemented to ensure that the captured image is a real face, not a high-quality photograph. The ambient lighting must not produce reflections from the cornea (the shiny outer surface of the eyeball) that obscure any part of the iris. The subject must remain stationary, or nearly stationary, with respect to the camera, and must not be hostile to the process. Certain types of contact lenses and glasses can obscure the iris pattern.

Iris recognition, like facial recognition, is most often used for security-related applications. Some countries have implemented iris-recognition systems in airports, points of entry or exit, and government buildings. The technology has also been used to prevent unauthorized access of personal computers and mobile devices. A small, portable iris-scanning device is available for consumer use, bypassing the need for cumbersome password entry. Iris recognition applications are also available for the iPhone and other smartphones.

 

Continue reading about iris recognition:

> FindBiometrics outlines the basics of iris recognition.

> The Wall Street Journal discusses some of the social ramifications of iris recognition.

> Researchers at the Imperial College of London explain how iris recognition works, and discuss what we might expect from this technology in the future.

> A portable iris-recognition device called EyeLock can take the place of password entry for logging into secure Web sites.

> Police iPhone App brings facial, iris and fingerprint recognition to the streets.

> Iris recognition was scrapped by officials at two British airports in February 2012.

This was last updated in March 2012
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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