Covert Iris Scanner Close To Minority Report Future

A public iris scanning device has been proposed in a patent from Samoff Labs in New Jersey. The device is able to scan the iris of the eye without the knowledge or consent of the person being scanned.


Iris recognition is a biometric identification system that requires a high-resolution picture of the irides of the subject's eye. Pattern recognition software is then used to match that picture against future iris scans.

(Time for your eye scan, Mr. Anderton)

Iris scans are considered highly accurate; current iris recognition algorithms have an incredibly low false match rate. Good quality scans result in a "false match" less than one time per one hundred billion.

The significant advantage of the newly proposed system is that it allows iris scans to be taken without the knowledge or participation of the subject. Read the relevant quote from the patent application:

A method and apparatus for obtaining iris biometric information that provides increased standoff distance and capture volume is provided herein. In one embodiment, a system for obtaining iris biometric information includes an array of cameras defining an image capture volume for capturing an image of an iris; and an image processor, coupled to the array of cameras, for determining at least one suitable iris image for processing from the images generated for the image capture volume. The image capture volume may include a plurality of cells, wherein each cell corresponds to at least one of the cameras in the array of iris image capture cameras. A subject within the capture volume is repeatedly imaged to produce a plurality of images of the subject. The plurality of images are processed to extract at least one clear image of the subject's iris. The clear image is then processed to, for example, identify the subject.

The availability of a public iris scanning device could greatly alter the nature of public spaces. In the 2002 movie Minority Report, filmmaker Steven Spielberg shows Tom Cruise's character walking through a mall. As he does so, public iris scanning devices repeatedly identify him, and then target him for personalized advertisements. Note that, in the film clip shown above, a "false match" is caused by surgery - Cruise's character has both of his eyes replaced.

Read more about ideas and inventions from the Minority Report movie, including the public iris scanning device. See also covert iris scanners; see also the Method and apparatus for obtaining iris biometric information from a moving subject iris scanner patent application. Thanks to readers Adi and Chris Robinson for the tip on this item.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/6/2007)

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Index of related articles:

Biometric security overview
Biometrics Glossary
Characteristics of successful biometric identification methods
Biometric identification systems
Biometric technology on the leading edge
Biometric identification - advantages
Biometric security and business ethics
Biometric authentication: what method works best?
Iris Recognition
Iris Scan

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