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Iris recognition technologies have not been as readily accepted as electronic fingerprinting, but last week a biometrics conference was told that new developments proved it was the most accurate identification system available.
Details of a number of iris-reading schemes, which measure the unique pattern around the pupil of the eye and record it in a database, were unveiled at the Biometrics 2005 meeting in London. Such technologies are already being employed by governments around the world, and systems developed in Britain have been used to expel more than 50,000 illegal immigrants from United Arab Emirates.
Major Barakat Al Kindy of the UAE police said that his country's system -- which is based on computer analysis pioneered by John Daugman, a professor at Cambridge University -- had proved "fast and able to identify the right person with 100% no mistakes".
More than 130 cameras for recording iris images have been installed at border crossings, passport control desks in airports and deportation centers across the country, he said. "Our problem was one most countries face. When you expel someone, they have a chance to go away, change their name or nationality and come back with a different identity."
The system has had extensive success, said Major Al Kindy. "On the first day a camera was put in Abu Dhabi airport, we caught someone coming back [illegally] into the country. The database now contains iris codes from 800,000 people. So far 50,452 people have been caught [since October 2003] and not allowed back in the country."