Iris biometric authentication is going mainstream. This type of authentication validates a person’s identity via recognizing the pattern of that person's iris, the ring around the pupil of the eye, which is unique for each individual, much like a fingerprint.
Fujitsu has built an iris authentication system into a prototype smartphone. The user's iris gets read instantaneously when he or she looks at the smartphone's screen, enabling the smartphone to be unlocked. A prototype was exhibited and demonstrated at Mobile World Congress 2015 earlier this month.
In the Fujitsu system the iris pattern is read by shining an infrared LED light on the eyes and taking an image of them with an infrared camera to acquire the iris pattern, which is registered and used to verify matches (see illustration below). Fujitsu uses ActiveIRIS from Delta ID as its iris recognition engine. This system can be used at a normal smartphone viewing distance, rather than within the 10-cm range that most existing iris recognition systems require. The company reports that In standard photobiological safety testing (IEC 62471), the infrared LED light was verified to be safe for the eyes.
Schematic of smartphone prototype equipped with an infrared camera and infrared LED.
Previously, in the case of smartphones and tablets, a user would employ either a password or a fingerprint scan for authentication purposes to unlock the screen or access information. Fujitsu's iris recognition method is reliable since the pattern of one's iris does not change much if at all after the age of two, and the pattern is difficult to falsify. It is also convenient to use; the screen can be unlocked simply by looking at it. This method eliminates the shortcoming of fingerprint analysis systems, such as having to use one's hands outdoors during winter when one is wearing gloves.
Back in January, at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics show Voxx International displayed a 2015 Jeep Wrangler that used iris biometrics technology from EyeLock to validate the driver and authorize the car to start following an eye scan, without using the ignition switch. EyeLock's technology looks at over 240 points in each eye, and the vehicle starts only after the scan is matched to the driver's iris template.
The 2015 Jeep Wrangler is a test bed for the EyeLock iris recognition system
For its Jeep Wrangler iris authentication application VOXX is working with EyeLock’s myris technology. Myris is a USB-enabled iris identity authenticator that works by converting an individual's iris patterns to a code unique only to that person, to grant access to devices and digital platforms.
With the EyeLock ID vehicle application installed, even if someone unauthorized got a hold of your keys they would not have the ability to start the car. Only an authenticated user can start the vehicle. The authentication process is said to take less than five seconds to complete and is as simple as looking in the mirror on the visor. Aside from granting access to start the vehicle, the EyeLock ID vehicle application could also offer users customized vehicle settings that would automatically set seat and mirror positions, radio presets, or any other customized features offered by the vehicle. The solution will offer up to five registered users' access to the vehicle.
EyeLock says that the odds of a false ID with myris are one in 2.25 trillion and that only DNA provides a more accurate means of verification. A small, mouse-like myris device also can be connected to a user's computer via USB and employs video to scan over 240 points on each iris and generate a unique 2048-bit digital signature for the user. After the initialization users need only hold the device up and look into its mirrored lens to gain access to their digital accounts.
Iris authentication promises not only to improve online security for users but it would also eliminate the need to remember the myriad of different passwords required for our different digital accounts.