Understanding about IRIS Recognition Technology

In the 1980’s, two ophthalmologists Aran Safir and Dr Leonard Flom proposed that no two irises are similar, even in twins, thus making them good biometric authentication units. This concept was based on the clinical experience with which they viewed the individual features of irises such as crypts, coronas, colors, pits, contraction furrows, striations, freckles and rifts. After researching and documenting the use of irises as a means of recognizing people, they were awarded a copyright in 1987. In 1990, Dr. John Daugman created the algorithm to implement iris technology. These algorithms utilize the methods of some mathematical calculations and pattern recognition of iris.

Nowadays access control systems are becoming more essential. The number of systems that have been compromised is ever increasing and one area where security can be enhanced is authentication. A biometric and Iris technology afford secure methods of identification and authentication. Iris Technology is used in many areas like airport security, ATMs, physical access security and information security.

Iris Technology
Iris Technology

Iris Recognition Technology

Iris-recognition is a biometric technology which deals with the recognition based on the human Iris. Iris-recognition technology is considered to be the most accurate biometric technology available today. The Iris is an inner organ of the body which is observable, or it is the area of the eye wherein the colored or pigmented circle, which is generally blue or brown, rings the dark purple area of the eye.

Iris Recognition System

Iris feature is an easy option of a person to prove his identity, which is based on his biometrics at any time and at any place. Iris recognition is an important identifying approach in many departments such as finance, navigation, etc. This system’s main features include Iris capturing, Image quality evaluation, Iris region segmentation, feature extraction, similarity calculation and decision making. Every part is very important in this recognition system for correct recognition of a person’s identity.

Iris Recognition System
Iris Recognition System

There are plenty of features in iris areas of human eye’s image. The iris is a small and black object, and capturing of iris image is not an easy work. To capture iris, we have to maintain some distance about 4 to 13 cm under a good-lighting environment. For many evident image recognition systems, infrared light source is better such as face-recognition system. It can perform a better light for enhancing image contrast, and furthermore, infrared light is harmless to eyes. In order to capture the best iris image, a person’s cooperation is necessary, and also the captured image supports iris recognition. A good cooperation can reduce the capacity of iris pre- processing and make iris recognition a real-time character. Therefore, under incorporate conditions so many researchers initiate to study the theory of imperfect iris recognition.

The process and working of iris recognition takes place like this: a picture of the iris is captured by a camera attached to a wall within a distance of 4 to 13 inches, and then the image is processed by a special type of software that separates the main iris patterns from the inner and outer boundaries of the iris. By using Dr. Daugman’s algorithm, the patterns of the iris from the processed image are encoded into a 512-bit code called as the iris code. The encoded code is encrypted as soon as it is calculated to avoid from theft. The calculated iris code is then compared to the codes that are stored in the database for matching and pattern recognition. The speed of searching the database can be up to10,000 codes/sec. Therefore, within a few seconds, a person can be recognized without any particular user action.

Iris Scanner

Iris Scanners are becoming more and more common in security applications nowadays as no two people’s eyes share similar iris patterns, and thus they are less matchable. Iris scanning has become very advanced, but at the heart of the system is a CCD digital camera. This camera uses both infrared and visible light to take a clear picture of a person’s iris. When a person’s pupil is black – with near IR light – to isolate the iris and pupil is easier for the computer. When a person looks into an iris scanner, the digital camera automatically focuses audible feedback from the system to make the person’s position correctly. When the camera takes a picture from 3 to 10 inches distance, the computer locates the center of the pupil, edge of the iris and pupil, the eye lashes and eyelids. It then calculates the patterns of the iris and translates them into a code.

 Iris Scanner
Iris Scanner

The iris is a visible but protected structure, and it doesn’t change over a time usually. Most of the time a person’s eyes also stay unchanged even after eye surgery and even blind people can use these scanners as long as their eyes have irises. Typically contact lenses and eye glasses do not cause inaccurate readings.

Biometric System

Nowadays a biometric access control system plays an essential role, and this system has realized the value of biometrics for two reasons: one is to identify, and the other to verify. The benefit of using biometric authentication is that it cannot be forgotten or lost as the person needs to be available during the point of identification process. Essentially, this system is more capable and reliable than the token-based and traditional knowledge-based techniques.

Biometric Systems
Biometric Systems

A Biometric system is a technological system that uses information about a person to identify that person. In order to work effectively, these systems depend on particular data based on some exclusive biological traits and qualities. This system has its major hub in distributions of electronic security system such as access-control system, time-attendance system based on fingerprints, facial-recognition attendance system, smartcard and proximity-based products, etc. The characteristic of biometrics can be classified into two types, which is represented in the following figure.

Physiological Biometrics: These types of biometric systems are related to the shape of the body and these systems include face recognition, iris recognition, fingerprint recognition, hand recognition and DNA recognition.

Behavioral Biometrics: These types of biometric systems are related to the behavior of a person and this type of biometrics includes voice, keystroke and signature recognition.

Characteristic of Biometrics
Characteristic of Biometrics


  • Due to exclusivity of iris patterns provide improved accuracy.
  •  This type of recognition cannot be forged or modified
  •  Being the internal organ of the eye, Iris is highly protected
  • Offers better scalability and speed


  • Iris scanning being a new technology is mismatched with most of the electronic gadgets that are available.
  • Iris scanning is difficult to perform without proper cooperation of the person.
  • Iris technology is susceptible to poor image quality with other photographic biometric technologies.
  • Equipment’s used for scanning are very difficult to handle.


  •  The largest application of the iris recognition is in the aviation industry.
  •  The world’s largest airports like Heath row Airport of London employ iris recognition.
  • In Unite Arab Emirates millions of iris code comparisons are done each day at all the air, land and seaports.
  •  The other applications of iris recognition system include Information security, security in online business, security in government applications, usage in security agencies to keep a record of criminals by police departments.

Thus, Iris technology has proved to be a very useful and adaptable security measure. It is an accurate and quick way of identifying an individual with no chance of human error. Iris recognition is widely used in many applications where security is necessary. In the future it will prove to be a widely used security measure.

Photo Credits:

Comments are closed.