[Dave Birch] One of the reasons by the British government’s IRIS scheme — which allows frequent travellers such as yours truly to enter the country via iris scanner instead of showing a passport to an immigration person (or, at least, theoretically does so: I’ve given up using it because it never works) — is so bad is because it is attempting to match against a large and growing database. This means that certain parameters have to be set to position the FAR/FRR curves in particular ways: if there’s a doubt, keep him out! If, on the other, you are matching a biometric template one-to-one against a securely stored templates, you can set the curves to be more tolerant, more workable in real world situations. An example of how the IRIS probably should have worked. Nevertheless, the biometric authentication market continues to grow steadily, with interesting new implementations coming along all the time. One that caught my eye is the system being installed at The Venetian Macao, the world’s largest casino, has deployed 13 VisionAccess 3D Face Readers in order to authenticate 12,000 employees at the front entrance when a new shift starts. Bioscrypt’s 3D face reader is a hands-free biometric solution that authenticates users in under a second by matching the structure of the person’s face against their enrolled template (ie, a one-to-one match). The readers function by shining a near infrared grid pattern on a user’s face. A camera then takes a picture of the resulting distortions in the grid pattern to match against the template, which is stored in a contactless smart card (typically kept in a hip pocket). That’s the way to do it.

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I imagine that the IRIS scheme works the way it does because at some point in the procurement process, they decided not to use smart cards and 1:1 matches (like at Schiphol) because smart cards would cost a couple of quid each and (an English disease) because a database of iris scans might come in useful at some point in the future. The system was not built for its users (ie, us). We have to stop thinking like this.

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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