Glance of the Eye

Biometric device is perfect technique to authenticate person's identity

RALPH Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, "One of the most wonderful things in nature is a glance of the eye; it transcends speech; it is the bodily symbol of identity." While biometrics was a concept not yet invented in Emerson's day, the quote still applies perfectly to the technique at the heart of Panasonic's BM-ET330 iris recognition system.

This recognition system employs an advanced method to positively authenticate an individual's identity through a glance into two cameras to take pictures of both irises. This picture is then matched to a previously taken picture that is stored in the database.

This recognition system employs an advanced method to positively authenticate an individual's identity through a glance into two cameras to take pictures of both irises. This picture is then matched to a previously taken picture that is stored in the database.

Seeing Double
Iris recognition is one of the most reliable biometric technologies available, and the system enhances that reliability through its dual camera design that captures both iris images simultaneously. It's fast, easy to use and features extremely low rates for both false accepts and rejects.

Employed initially in high-security applications, iris recognition systems are now being used in a wider range of identity management installations to augment existing physical security systems such as access control. In the example of a highly trafficked Manhattan office building, the BM-ET330 system is integrated into the several lobby turnstiles, which are networked into the building's access control system.

Users initially enroll in the system by having photos of their irises taken by the iris reader and stored in a database. The system's biometric software, developed by Iridian Technologies Inc., makes a template or map of each person's iris pattern for storage on the access control system server.

In the case of the Manhattan office building, to authenticate identity in the database as an authorized employee and gain entry to the building, individuals swipe their access card and then simply look into the iris reader. The system compares the patterns in the person's irises against the templates stored on the server, if there's a match, the identity is verified, the turnstile is unlocked and the person gains access.

Looking Back
Enhancing existing security systems with biometrics, and specifically iris recognition has become more prevalent and accepted. Iris technology offers extreme accuracy and high security and is easy to use. Authentication is more accurate because unlike fingerprint, voice, facial or photo ID card programs, data obtained using the iris recognition system will never become obsolete, as iris patterns remain the same for life after one year of age. The system has a false acceptance ratio of only one in 1.2 million. In addition, it is absolutely safe to use, and no contact with the cameras is required, eliminating wear and tear and contamination issues.

Compared to other biometric technologies, iris recognition offers a definite advantage in an integrated front-end access control system. Rather than the one-to-one search used in fingerprint systems, the iris reader uses a one-to-many comparison technique, which seeks to find an identity from a database rather than verify a claimed identity. Additionally, files needed to store iris data are much smaller compared to those for fingerprints -- 512 bytes compared to 1.5 MB -- thereby making the data easier to store and access.

All Eyes Ahead
Public knowledge and acceptance of access control is commonplace, and use of iris recognition systems will increase in the public domain as an integrated or even standalone system to access control. Projects such as the Orlando Airport ClearTM Registered Traveler Program and the National ChildTM Identification Program are helping to create greater understanding of the powerful identification, authentication and security applications of iris recognition.

This article originally appeared in the August 2006 issue of Security Products, pg. 52.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

About the Author

Julianna Benedick is the group manager of marketing for Panasonic System Solutions Company -- Panasonic Security Systems.


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