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David Ackerman Apr 22, 2020 1:49:00 PM 2 min read

Iris biometrics are having a moment

Today’s biometric systems identify us by our fingerprints, faces and irises to secure our laboratories, data centers, athletic facilities, banks, hospitals and university buildings.  Secure access biometric technology is developing rapidly.

Unfortunately, consequences of the novel corona virus pandemic have overtaken some of these biometric developments.  The same fingerprint or palm readers that granted us secure access last month are now infectious public surfaces in our battle with COVID-19.  Face readers that previously recognized students and workers are now flummoxed by facemasks and protective eyewear.  Security during the ongoing pandemic demands safe (touchless) and robust biometric systems.

In this moment, all eyes turn to iris biometrics.
Iris biometric algorithms read the unique texture in the colored part of our eyes to create a unique personal key that opens access systems. The iris-based key is like that made from the ridges of our fingerprints or the geometry of our face or palm-veins.  Unlike fingerprint or palm-vein readers however, iris or face scanners are entirely touchless – operating from a safe arm’s-length distance. And where face recognition is hobbled by protective equipment like facemasks and respirators that hide facial features, iris readers operate successfully even through hazmat suits so long as a person’s eyes are visible. Iris biometrics require no touching and no mask removal.

Beyond these advantages, iris recognition operates with the highest level of selectivity and accuracy producing more confident identification, especially compared to facial recognition -- fewer false positives and fewer false negatives. Iris readers operate touchlessly at a safe distance, are robust even for people wearing masks, are fast and are accurate. In a world rocked by a pandemic virus, iris recognition brings its accuracy and a set of safety advantages over other modalities.