Need of Bio-metrics
There are more people on Earth than ever before, owning more things, and swapping more information every single day. Security has never been more important but—ironically, thanks to the computing power at everyone’s disposal—never easier to crack. Conventionally, security relies on things that are difficult to do quickly: locks are physically difficult to bust open without the correct metal keys, while information secured by encryption is hard to access without the right mathematical keys. But this kind of security has a basic flaw: with the right key, even the wrong person can quickly gain access.
Most security experts think biometrics is the answer. Instead of restricting access to things through arbitrary locks and keys, we grant access to people if we can positively identify them by measuring some unique pattern on their body. If you think about it, an ordinary passport photo is a crude example of biometrics. When the border guards look at your face and compare it with your passport photo, what they’re doing is intuitively comparing two images. Is one nose bigger than another? Are the eyes further apart? That’s simple biometrics. The trouble is that our faces change all the time and lots of people look very similar. Fingerprints are a more reliable form of biometrics, but even they’re not infallible: illnesses and injuries, as well as basic wear-and-tear, can alter the pattern of ridges on our fingers in time. Iris scanning is a much more reliable way of identifying people—simplying by taking quick photographs of their eyes.
Why Iris recognition technology is unique?
The iris is the colored ring of muscle that opens and shuts the pupil of the eye like a camera shutter. The colored pattern of our iris is determined genetically when we’re in the womb but not fully formed until we’re aged about two. It comes from a pigment called melanin—more melanin gives you browner eyes and less produces bluer eyes. Although, we talk about people having “blue eyes,” “green eyes,” “brown eyes,” or whatever, in reality the color and pattern of people’s eyes is extremely complex and completely unique: the patterns of one person’s two eyes are quite different from each other and even genetically identical twins have different iris patterns.
How Iris Recognition Technology works?
1) Image capturing
The first step consists of capturing the image of the iris of the person whose identity needs to be verified. The image capture itself can be manual or automated but it needs to be ensured that the iris is in proper focus and that the image is captured with clarity.
2) Identification of the iris
In this step, first the iris recognition system optimizes on the focus and the clarity of the image. It then identifies the iris boundaries followed by the center of the pupil which is also the center of the circular iris. Finally, it analyzes the area of the iris image which is suitable for feature extraction and analysis.
3) Matching identified Iris pattern with Pre-stored Patterns
The encoded structural features, or biometric templates, are then stored in the biometric database at the time of enrollment of a person. If the iris scan has been taken for the purpose of authentication, then the biometric template for the scanned image is matched with biometric templates stored in the database.
Pros and Cons of Iris Technology
The biggest advantage of iris scanning is its accuracy and reliability: it’s estimated to be ten times more accurate than fingerprinting (claimed to produce around 1 in 1–2 million false matches, compared to fingerprints, which produce around 1 in 100,000). While fingerprints are constantly exposed and susceptible to damage, the iris is naturally protected by the cornea (the eye’s transparent front coating) and its pattern seems to remain reliably unchanged for decades (though not necessarily for life). Unlike fingerprint scanners, which need direct contact and have to be kept spotlessly clean, iris scans can be performed safely and hygienically at some distance from the eye.
The drawbacks of iris scanning include greater initial cost and the fact that it’s still a relatively untried technology (some trials, for example, have found a much greater rate of false matches than originally claimed). Civil liberties campaigners have also voiced privacy concerns—that future iris-scanning technology could be developed that will allow people to be tracked covertly (at a distance of some meters) without either their knowledge or cooperation.
Privacy and security are also concerns. Supporters of biometric technology claim that it automatically makes things like computer and ATM access more secure than traditional, very vulnerable technologies, such as simple passwords and PIN numbers. But critics have highlighted the risks of criminals compromising iris scanning security, either by using high-resolution photographs of eyes or even (horrible though it sounds) a person’s dead eyeballs. The latest iris-scanning systems attempt to get around this by detecting eye movements or seeing how a person’s eyes change in different lighting conditions. There’s also the matter of hacking and data breaches, which are potentially more serious if the stolen information is biometric. If your fingerprints are stolen, and can then be used to access any other systems that use fingerprint access, what can you possibly do about it? You can’t change your fingers the way you can change your house keys or your computer passwords. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that biometric systems don’t generally store raw biometric information. Iris scans, for example, are using an encoded pattern derived from your iris, not your iris itself, and even if this gets stolen, it’s possible to generate a different iris code for the same person, which would be equivalent to changing the locks on your home after a burglary.
Market Growth & Major Industry Players
According to marketsandmarkets, the iris recognition market is expected to reach USD 3627.90 Million by 2020, at a CAGR of 23.40% between 2015 and 2020.
Tractica forecasts that iris recognition biometrics revenue will increase from $676.6 million in 2016 to $4.1 billion in 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2%.
Major Companies in the market in Iris Recognition Technology domain:
- 3M Cogent
- 4G Identity Solutions
- Aditech Ltd.
- Delta ID
- FIDO Alliance
- Fulcrum Biometrics
- ImageWare Systems
- Iris ID Systems
- M2SYS Technology
- MorphoTrust USA
- Nok Nok Labs
- Princeton Identity Inc.
- UBKEY Innovation
At a conclusion note
Iris recognition technology is durable, quantifiable, recordable and reliable. It thus fulfills the basic tenets of an ideal biometric system. The stored biometric template can be used for a person’s whole life as iris patterns are not susceptible to change, remaining stable for long periods of time. Enrollment is required only once in a lifetime, saving both time and money.
Biometric iris recognition systems are easy to use and create a hassle free security environment. Iris scanners can be used to protect high value locations by denying access to unwarranted visitors. Business and governmental organizations across the board have recognized the benefits of this system and have gone about implementing iris recognition based authentication systems in a big way.