Looking To The Future: Iris Scan Technology

2064 words - 9 pages

Computerized billboards that know your name, voice controlled house appliances, floating cars, and eye scanners. Besides being some of the key technologies of the future in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film, Minority Report, what else do these technologies have in common? A level of absurd science fiction; or the incredible fact that they are all currently scientific works in progress? While many technologies presently undergoing research, such as voice controlled house appliances, are primarily for human convenience, others, like the eye scanner, are being pushed for heavily by many governments and companies world wide. What’s even more intriguing regarding the technology of eye scans ...view middle of the document...

In fact, according to Professor Daugman from the University of Cambridge, UK, in 2003, “If a machine were to take over in order to match passport images against a database of information, the rate of error would be five to 40 percent, even with the best algorithms. Today’s [2003] computer algorithms for automatic facial recognition have a truly appalling performance in terms of accuracy”. An algorithm, as defined on dictionary.com, is “A set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps”. Therefore, an algorithm in the case of facial scanning technology is the amount of steps it takes for a computer to scan the face. “The key to the power of biometrics to identify people is the amount of randomness and complexity that the biometric contains. Facial recognition is inherently unreliable because there isn’t nearly enough randomness in the appearance of different faces” (qtd. in Facing a biometric future). Technology at the time of this article [2003] was not as advanced as it is today [2006], but in an article by Ian Rothkerch, written in 2002, John Underkoffler, a researcher from MIT, states:“We have video sureveillance systems being installed at Logan Airport and Providence Airport that are being tied on the back end to template matching-facial recognition systems. They may not be accurate enough, but we’re at that moment where if we, as an ostensibly democratic society, don’t make some choices, the choice will just happen automatically”.If facial recognition is not a secure enough way to identify people, then what about the seemingly age-old method of fingerprints?Fingerprint technology is the oldest and most effective method of identification. In terms of digital scanning for security and identification, however, it is also essentially as inaccurate as facial scanning technology. Since the scanning is being done by a computer, the actual ridges and patterns are electronically read by a computer sensor plate. In many cases, the readings of the computer can be affected if a print has been damaged or is too wet or too dry (Twist). It is explained by Professor Daugman in Twists’ article that “Irises have about 249 degrees-of-freedom, whereas faces have only about 20 degrees-of-freedom (independent dimensions of variation), and fingerprints have only about 35 degrees-of-freedom.”. These numbers directly affect the algorithms, proving that iris scanning technology is the most effective method of biometric security and identification. “Fingerprints are vastly better biometrics than faces, but better still are iris scans. The added strength of iris recognition is that it never makes false matches. There has never been a documented case of an iris comparison mistaking one person for another”, says Daugman (qtd. in Facing a biometric future).So what makes iris scanning such an appealing technology for security? Why are experts convinced it is the biometric...

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