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Hi-Tech IDs.


You're out on Saturday night with friends, headed for a flick. You re low on cash and can't ask your buddies for a quick loan ... again. But you've stashed your lawn-mowing earnings in your own bank account. So you make a fast stop at a cash machine. You hurry up to the ATM, stand in front of it, and just stare ...

You didn't bring a bankcard. And you don't have a PIN--Personal Identification Number. Who cares? The ATM instantly dispenses $40. What gives? Is the cash machine on the blink?

No, you blinked. And with the press of a button, the ATM scanned your "eyeprint"--your iris, the colored "doughnut" around the pupil, to be exact. An ATM camera matched the picture of your iris with a previously stored image in the bank's database (a collection of data stored in a computer). This positively proves that you--and no one else but you--are getting your hard-earned cash.

Welcome to the world of hi-tech IDs, where your iris, fingerprints, and voice may be your "passwords" to the future. The use of characteristics of the human body to identify an individual is called biometrics, and has been around for centuries. Two thousand years ago, the Chinese used fingerprint impressions to seal and verify personal documents. Today, advances in computer technology and growing concerns for security are fueling a widespread biometrics revolution.

With easy access to color copiers, scanners, and printers, counterfeiters can chum out fake IDs that pass for the real thing. But with foolproof ID systems like iris recognition, even your identical twin couldn't pass for you. As Erik Bowman, manager for Identicator Technology, Inc., a biometrics company in Rockville, Maryland, says, "PINs and passwords will soon be a thing of the past."


Why use your iris for ID? The connective tissues and muscles that open your eye's pupil have a pattern totally unique to you. Your irises are different from those of everyone else on Earth. In fact, your left iris is distinct from your right!

Banks in Texas, England, and Japan have already launched the iris-recognition system, and experts predict that within several years, iris scanners may replace standard credit cards. Imagine paying for clothes with a quick camera glance--you'd better shop with your eyes closed!

So, suppose your school wanted to use iris IDs to make sure only registered students enter the building. Here's how it might work: First, a photo technician uses a computerized camera to take a picture of your left or right eye at a distance of up to a meter (3.3 ft) away. A computer then places the photographed pattern on a two-dimensional grid, like graph paper. Using mathematical equations, the computer identifies the 266 measurable characteristics of your iris and locates them on the grid. (Fingerprint-recognition technology identifies only 40 characteristics, making it less accurate.) A computer program converts all of these characteristics into a mathematical code called the "IrisCode." The code is stored in the computer's database, or as a bar code.

Next time you face the camera, it scans your iris for the same 266 characteristics. A computer translates them into "IrisCode," searches its database, and matches it with the original code. The process takes less than two seconds. In more than 2 billion trials on millions of eyes, the iris-recognition system has never mistakenly identified anyone.

"One of the best things about iris-recognition is you don't have to make a claim about who you are," says computer scientist John Daugman in Cambridge, England, inventor of iris-recognition software. Most biometrics techniques serve to verify who you are after you've provided your name. But iris-recognition is so precise and quick, it identifies you from a database of codes, without the need for any other form of ID.

Iris recognition can work through most light sunglasses, prescription eyeglasses, and contacts. Mirrored sunglasses, however, still pose a problem. Who knows? "Take off your Oakleys" could soon replace "Can I see some ID?"
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Title Annotation:the use of fingerprints and iris recognition will soon replace passwords and personal identification numbers as identity tools
Author:Vilar, Miguel
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 4, 1999
Previous Article:Make your own Mummy!
Next Article:Body BONANZA.

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