Dont Blink:Iris Recognition for Biometric Identification
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Joined: Jun 2010
28-09-2010, 10:16 AM

This article is presented by:
SANS Institute
InfoSec Reading Room


With the cost of eye-scanning technology coming down and the need for more secure systems going up, it’s time to take a close look at iris recognition for security applications. Due to research and patented technology, iris recognition has emerged from its early image of spy film fantasy to reality. This paper explores the origins of iris recognition, how it works, how it stacks up against other forms of biometric identification and what is required to perform the identification. Comparisons will be made to fingerprinting, retinal scanning, speaker recognition, facial scanning and hand geometry. We will report on products that are on the market today to help implement iris recognition technology and will examine some existing and proposed real-world applications that take advantage of iris recognition for secure biometric identification and authentication. The information and conclusions drawn in this paper should help others who are investigating the usefulness of iris recognition for secure biometric identification.
In 1936, ophthalmologist Frank Burch conceived the idea of using the iris for identification. Many of us remember seeing the eye-scanner used in James Bond films, but it took almost 60 years for the technology to become reality. Ophthalmologists Aran Safir and Leonard Flom patented the idea of using the iris for identification in 1987. In 1989, they enlisted the help of Harvard Professor John Daugman to develop iris recognition algorithms, which he subsequently patented. Safir, Flom and Daugman formed a partnership, and the algorithms are now owned by Iridian Technologies.3 John Daugman is currently a Professor at Cambridge University, where he has received numerous awards for his work on iris recognition algorithms. The awards include the British Computer Society’s IT Award and Medal in 1997, the Smithsonian Award in 2000, the “Time 100” Innovator Award in 2001, and the Millennium Product designation by the UK Design Council in 1998.

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