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Issue Date: April 2004 (es)

Iris recognition: debunking the myths

1 April 2004

Identification typically is achieved by checking something you have (a card), something you know (a password) or something you are (a fingerprint or photo).
Biometrics is emerging as the most effective means of identification. Biometrics is anatomical characteristics that are unique to an individual such as fingerprints, face, iris, hand geometry and DNA. A biometric that is accurate, unchanging and fast is needed to provide individuals specific rights and capabilities like logging on to a computer, gaining access to a physical location or for personal identification.
Iris recognition provides such a solution and is fast becoming the global biometric of choice in large-scale database environments with Holland, Canada, USA, Japan, UAE, Germany all using the technology for border access control.
Morne Breedt, technical manager of local iris recognition agency eyedentity, provides some answers to frequently asked questions.
Q: How accurate is iris recognition technology?
A: Iris recognition is based on the most mathematically unique biometric - the iris of the eye. The iris is absolutely unique.
Q: How does the recognition process work?
A: The iris recognition process begins with video-based image acquisition that locates the eye and iris. The eye pattern is converted into a 512 byte record. The IrisCode is hashed and encrypted as a security measure.
Q: Are there any risks?
A: Iris identification uses standard video cameras to take a picture of the iris of your eye. It does not use lasers and therefore has none of the inherent risks associated with lasers.
Q: What about changes to the eye?
A: Iris recognition can also account for those ongoing changes to the eye and iris that are defining aspects of living tissue. The pupil's expansion and contraction, a constant process separate from its response to light, skews and stretches the iris; the algorithm accounts for such alteration after having located the boundaries of the iris.
Q: Why iris recognition?
A: Iris recognition has the highest accuracy level of all biometrics with a near 0% false accept rate (FAR) and ½% false reject rate (FRR). Iris recognition provides fast, scalable authentication in large database environments. Typically, identification time averages about two seconds.
The iris is stable over life from age one until death.
Q: Do any industry standards exist for iris recognition?
A: The only industry standard that is publicly available is BioAPI. This is an application programming interface standard. eyedentity, through its partner Iridian Technologies, is committed to the principles of notice, access and choice as advocated by the International Biometric Industry Association (IBIA), of which Iridian is a founding member. The IBIA are proactive in developing public policy for the ethical use of all biometric technology.
For more information visit or contact 011 326 4727 or

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