Iris Smartphone to Help Build a Digital India

As India is going to finish its 1.2 billion people biometric enrollment, Indian Government is paying more attention into the authentication market where myriad of applications to be deployed such as: time attendance, benefits distribution, SIM issuance, mobile payment, healthcare, etc. At the same time, mobile penetration in India currently is estimated to cover around 71% of the total population and expected to reach 500 million smartphones in the next 4-5 years. Increasing internet usage on mobile, introduction of low end smart phones has made mobile a convenient and essential channel for public services delivery. Hence Indian Government is pushing biometrics on the smartphone which can work with national authentication framework. As RS Sharma, the secretary of Department of Electronics & Information Technology said “Such mobile-governance will bring countless people, who are otherwise left behind, in to the system using technology.”

iris smartphone

Currently, fingerprints and iris recognition are the two primary biometric modalities being used. However, as proven in many PoC (Proof of Concept) and field test reports done by the Standardization Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) Directorate, iris recognition prevailed over fingerprints in accuracy especially when applied to poor populations engaged in heavy manual labor. The failed authentication rate stood at only 0.79% for single-eye cameras and 0.60% for dual-eye cameras, for about 5,000 residents of Karnataka’s Mysore district in 2012. Moreover, the rapidly falling price and advancing technologies of iris scanner makes it a viable option for authentication mobile/tablet over fingerprint.

As ambitious as its UIDAI program, Indian Government – Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) particularly, once said to enforce all mobile phones sold in India to provide iris scanners. The project has been started for several years now to prepare the scheme for IRIS Authentication Devices Certification. In such large-scale biometric application like UIDAI, many requirements have been taken into account in order to meet the goals of UIDAI. For example, the iris built-in camera is required to perform outdoor regardless the direct sunlight and to have the liveliness detection capability as well. In May, the real-field FRR test has been done with around 5,000 test population and IriTech’s iris phone manufactured by Foxconn is proud to get the 0% FRR result.

Moreover, in the early of 2015, the union government under its “Digital India” program has decided to use the Aadhaar number for the mobile banking purpose. The Aadhaar number would be linked with the mobile number as well as the bank account number of the individual. “Aadhaar number, mobile number and bank account number – these are the three important pillars of Digital India program. We will link all of them together to provide a flawless solution, where people can easily do transactions using their mobile phones,” said Sharma, the secretary of Department of Electronics & Information Technology at the 18th National Conference on e-Governance. In fact, iris embedded mobile device with two strong authentication factors: biometrics (what you are) and mobile (what you have), appears to be a secure, sophisticated and convenient ways of creating, managing and applying digital identities.

Nowadays, massive amounts of data are likely to exist on mobile devices. People use them more than any other platforms to access data and services. In the near future, researchers expect identity credentials such as: bank card, driver’s license, medical card, passport, etc. will be all embedded into mobile devices and become digital. At that time, Indian Government would have been the leader in bringing iris smartphone into such applications.