Iris-recognition system is new key to ATMs
Automated teller machines (ATMs) in England will be the first place to look for a commercial test of a human-iris-recognition system. The system, IrisIdent, was developed by Sensar (Moorestown, NJ) and formally unveiled on Dec. 3, 1997, at the Banking Administration Institute`s annual conference in New Orleans, LA.
To use the system, a customer stands one to three feet from a wide-angle charge-coupled-device (CCD) video camera that captures a frontal view and determines the position of the eye. Then, a narrow-view CCD video camera focuses on the eye and captures a black-and-white digital image. A circular grid pattern is overlaid on the picture of the eye, and the system analyzes how light and dark areas of the iris fall inside the grid. Lighting is supplied by a bank of 880-nm light-emitting diodes with an illumination power on the skin or iris of less than 2 mW/cm2--well below safety limits. From the analysis of light and dark areas in the iris, the system generates a 256-byte barcode that is checked against a database of customer barcodes. The entire process takes approximately two seconds.
"Individual iris patterns are more specific than genetic code. A person`s left and right irises are statistically independent from each other--and from the rest of the world," says Michael Negin, Sensar`s vice president and chief technical officer. There are 250 features unique to each person`s iris compared to approximately 40 for fingerprints.
The iris-recognition system software process technology was invented by John Daugman at Cambridge University (Cambridge, England). Relevant patents are controlled by IriScan Inc. (Mt. Laurel, NJ) and licensed to Sensar. The vision system technology was developed by Sarnoff Laboratories (Princeton, NJ), of which Sensar is a spin-off.
Negin says that in February two pilot tests will begin at branches of the NationWide Building Society in England. Each site may see two systems installed at ATMs, two at teller stations, one at an enrollment station, and one at a high-security vault access area. Full sales are expected to begin in 1999, when smaller versions of the system will be available for integration into ATMs. There are more than 700,000 ATMs in world, with 130,000 more added each year.
W. Conard Holton