Top Myths about Iris Recognition You Might Misunderstand

Iris recognition is considered fairly new in biometric authentication compared to fingerprint but it’s more inclusive in enrollment and more precise for authentication, with a better tradeoff curve between errors of acceptance and rejection, according to POC test carried out by the Unique Identification Authority of India (1). In a pilot test done in Malawi by UNHCR, iris even scored far higher than fingerprints and face in terms of ease of use, speed, and overall preference (2). However, there are still misunderstandings about the technology which are holding back people from accepting this new technology. Following are the most concerned issues from our customers and partners including governments, enterprises and end-users in different vertical markets that we have collected.

iris recognition myth

Will iris scanning harm your eyes?

In those sci-fi movies, you can see there is a laser beam emitted from the iris device and scan the eyes thoroughly. In fact, iris recognition is an automated method to capture iris images that uses video camera technology with near infrared (NIR) illumination LED. So the question is “Is NIR LED safe?”

In 2009, the IEC 62471 “Photobiological Safety of Lamps and Lamp Systems” standard was developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to define the exposure limits, references measurement techniques and the classification scheme for the evaluation and control of photobiological hazards for LED and illuminations. According to the standard, LED would be safe as long as it is classified as “Exempt” group which means it does not pose any photobiological hazard (3). IEC 62471 is recognized among 53 countries so you can look for the IEC 62471 certification done by a third party and check if it’s safe or not. Government projects always ask for such eye safety certification as one of the requirements for iris scanner.

Iris and retina scanning are the same!

Our customers are usually confused they are the same one too but in contrary, they are very different in terms of scanning technology and scanning time.

Iris is the color part while retina is the blood vessels underneath the eye. Iris authentication can be done fast at a comfortable distance through automated video capturing technology; while retina scanning requires the users to encounter closely with the scanning device that sends a beam of light deep into the eye in a longer period of time. That’s why retina is considered to be intrusive and iris is not. Hence, iris recognition is widely accepted in many projects worldwide.

The normal phone camera can capture iris

We hope that there will be the day when it happens too. Unfortunately, the current technology is not able to do that, yet. The camera is needed to be modified with other hardware changes. This can be a disadvantage for iris recognition to be applied on mobile devices. However, it opens other advantages  in terms of convenience which are (1) enabling users to authenticate their identity in various lighting conditions including at night time compared to face recognition and (2) being reachable when your hands are wearing gloves compared to existing fingerprint scan on smartphones. With IriTech’s iris solution, the user can even capture their irises under bright/direct sunlight which we have earned ourselves a patent for that which we call outdoor capturing capability. Please read more about the technology here:

With the above information, we hope you have had more understanding about iris recognition technology. If you still have any concerns or inquiries about the technology, please feel free to reach out for us.