The eyes may be the mirror to the soul, but the iris reveals a person’s true identity – its intricate structure constitutes a powerful biometric. A new report by computer scientists at the U.S National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) demonstrates that iris recognition algorithms can maintain their accuracy and ability to work together with compact images, affirming their potential for largescale identity management applications such as the federal Personal Identity Verification program, cyber security and counterterrorism.
After fingerprints, iris recognition has emerged in recent years as the second most widely supported biometric characteristic. This marketplace rests, in large part, on the ability of recognition algorithms to process standard images from the many cameras now available. This requires images to be captured in a standard format and prepared so that they are compact enough for a smart card and for transmission across global networks. The images also have to be identifiable by computer algorithms and interoperable with any iris-matcher product regardless of the manufacturer.
The test result shows that forensic applications, where image quality is sometimes degraded, can benefit from slower but more powerful algorithms.
NIST is developing Iris Exchange programmes to calibrate and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of iris image quality assessment algorithms. The studies will support a new international iris image quality standard by identifying specific iris image properties that are influential on recognition accuracy.