Iris recognition has been used in a lot of countries for the purpose of identifying millions of people around the world. This technology is convenient to use and hard to forge. Many authentication programs including passport-less border crossing and national ID etc. have adopted this technology for its benefits.
However, like other technologies, iris recognition too has some fallbacks. Here we will talk about both the advantages and the disadvantages of iris recognition which is currently being used worldwide.
Topics we will discuss in this post:
- What is Iris Recognition
- Advantages of iris recognition
- Disadvantages of iris recognition
What is Iris Recognition?
Iris recognition is one of the most reliable modalities among all biometric solutions such as fingerprint, palm vein, facial etc. According to its definition on Wikipedia, it is an automated method of identification that uses mathematical pattern-recognition techniques on video images of one or both of the irises of an individual’s eyes. The complex patterns are unique, stable, and can be seen from some distance.
Learn More: What Is Iris Recognition And How Does It Work?
Advantages of Iris Recognition
Iris recognition is one of the most secure biometric modalities for the purposes of identification and the subsequent authentication of an individual. It is extremely difficult to forge an iris scanner reading because of the unique characteristics of the iris. Compared to other modalities, it has a significantly lower false acceptance rate and false rejection rate. It is a highly useful technology in areas such as border security, membership authentication, financial institutes, and information security to name just a few of its many uses.
The following are some of the core advantages of iris recognition:
- Accuracy: Iris recognition is one of the best biometric modalities in terms of accuracy. The false acceptance rate and false rejection rate is very low in this modality, thus ensuring a higher rate of accuracy in its results.
- Scalability: This technology is highly scalable and can be used in both large and small scale programs. It has been deployed in many large scale programs including the respective government’s biometric authentication programs in several countries across the world.
- Distance: Unlike retina scanning, iris scanning can be done from a normal distance. It is like taking a normal photo, which can be taken from the regular distance of taking pictures.
- Stable: Iris patterns remains stable throughout an individual’s life. It is protected by the body’s own mechanism.
- Easy to use: Iris recognition system is plug & play compared to other modalities of biometric recognition. A person needs to stand still in front of the camera and the job is done instantly. It is a comfortable process for everyone.
- Fast: With iris recognition system, a person can complete the process within just a few seconds. If the initial enrollment has taken place, it works faster than other modalities. From next enrolment, a camera will capture the iris, and then the matching system will work with the database and send the report instantly.
- Non-intrusive: A person doesn’t need physical contact with the devices to perform an iris scan. As there is no direct physical contact between the subject and camera, this technology is not intrusive at all.
- Non-invasive: Iris recognition can be done with simple video technology. No use of laser technology is necessary to scan the iris making it a non-invasive technology altogether.
- Hard to forge: The whole iris recognition system is difficult to forge by any means, making it simple and secure. This biometric modality is deployed in a lot of countries, but there are hardly any data breach records of this modality.
- Engagement: It needs the subject’s engagement to perform a iris recognition scan. The scanning camera can’t record an iris without the subject’s proper engagement at some point of the process.
- Glass/Contact lenses: A lot of people use glass or contact lenses to see things perfectly. Though these gadgets are very close to the eye, it doesn’t make any difference in the iris recognition process.
- Randomness: The randomness degree of iris pattern is very high which makes every iris unique. As an example, the variability iris has 244 degrees-of-freedom and the entropy has 3.2 bits per square-millimeter.
- Pupil Size: The changing pupil size confirms the natural physiology of an iris. But, the pattern of an iris doesn’t change.
- Protection: The iris is an internal organ of the eye. For this reason, iris pattern never changes in a lifetime. As an internal organ, it is highly protective compared to retina recognition.
- Traceable: The encoding and decision making of iris pattern is highly traceable. It takes only 30 milliseconds for the image analysis and the subsequent encoding.
Disadvantages of Iris Recognition:
Apart from all the advantages, every technology has some disadvantages too, iris recognition is no different.
The key disadvantages of iris recognition are the following:
- Expensive: Iris scanners are relatively higher in cost compared to other biometric modalities. As one of the leading and latest technology of the modern times, the cost of the iris devices are fairly high. Large companies, agencies or Governments can afford that price, but the general public can’t afford to pay that price. Some say that it costs five times higher than fingerprint scanning which is more readily available to the general public.
- Distance: Iris is small in size and can’t be located from a few meters distance. A person needs to be in close distance with the iris scanning device to be enrolled on the system properly. So, a proper setup is needed for initiating an iris recognition process.
- Movement: A person has to be steady in front of the device to be enrolled by iris scanners. It means this device can’t be used like face recognition devices to scan anybody, regardless of their movements. Sometimes it is quite difficult to be steady enough to complete the scanning process in first attempt.
- Reflection: In some cases, it is hard to perform an iris scanning due to the presence of reflections. It could happen in case of eyelashes, lenses, and anything in general that would cause a reflection. These aren’t very uncommon in our society, so people would face some difficult during iris scanning process.
- Infrared light: The constant use of this system may cause harm to the iris because it is constantly being scanned with infrared light.
- Location: The placement of iris is somewhat bizarre. It is situated behind a curved, wet, reflecting surface.
- A lot of memory is required for the data to be stored and later accessed.
- Obscure: It is obscured by eyelashes, lenses and reflections, which create a problem, more often than not.
- Eyelids: Iris is partially blocked by eyelids which is difficult to control by individuals due to frequent blinking.
- Transformation: Iris may deform non-elastically as the pupil may change its size due to medical or other conditions.
As discussed above, these are the most common disadvantages of iris recognition technology. Apart from all the positivity, we should know about the flipside of the coin which holds another perspective of threats & concerns.
We are entering into an era where biometric authentication may be the most reliable and necessary system for identification. The uses of biometrics in today’s society is getting popular every day. We should be aware of both the advantages and the disadvantages of iris recognition technology, as it is one of the top arsenals of this industry and it’s likely to become a part of our lives sooner than we may expect.