Study: Aging can effect eye 'recognition'

July 12, 2012 at 6:38 PM
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SOUTH BEND, Ind., July 12 (UPI) -- Human aging can cause failure in systems that identify people by scanning their eyes, U.S. researchers say.

It has been assumed since the early days of iris recognition technologies that the iris was a "stable" biometric over a person's lifetime, requiring just "one enrollment for life" in such systems.

However, a study at the University of Notre Dame suggests iris biometric enrollment is susceptible to an aging process that causes recognition performance to degrade slowly over time.

"The biometric community has long accepted that there is no 'template aging effect' for iris recognition, meaning that once you are enrolled in an iris recognition system, your chances of experiencing a false non-match error remain constant over time," Kevin Bowyer of the department of computer science and engineering said.

"This was sometimes expressed as 'a single enrollment for life.' Our experimental results show that, in fact, the false non-match rate increases over time, which means that the single enrollment for life idea is wrong," he said in a university release Thursday.

Iris recognition is used in various airports and border crossings, including London airports, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and border entry in the United Arab Emirates.

Bowyer said he does not see the results of the study as a "negative" for iris recognition technologies.

"I do not see this as a major problem for security systems going forward," he said. "Once you have admitted that there is a template effect and have set up your system to handle it appropriately in some way, it is no longer a big deal."

In the long run, he said, researchers may develop new approaches that are "aging-resistant."

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