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Surprising Science

Using “Eyeprints” As ID

Just like fingerprints, the pattern of veins in the eyes is unique to each individual. New software takes pictures of those patterns and uses them for authentication.

What’s the Latest Development?

Next year, Kansas City-based startup EyeVerify plans to begin rolling out its identification software, which uses the pattern of veins in the whites of the eyes. It takes pictures of the “eyeprints”– one on either side of each eye, for a total of four — and then stores them. To then gain access or authentication, more pictures are taken and the software compares them against the stored images. EyeVerify founder Toby Rush says that in tests involving 96 people, the system was almost 100 percent accurate. He also claims that the software is able to distinguish a real person from an image of that person.

What’s the Big Idea?

Eyeprints are just like fingerprints in that each person’s is unique. However, there are doubts as to whether eyeprint scanning will be as accurate as fingerprint scanning. The pattern of veins changes over time, for example, and there are changes that come from sickness or injury. There’s also the matter of accuracy: making sure the camera captures images clearly. Purdue University will work with the company to conduct further tests on a greater range of subjects. Rush says that manufacturers have expressed interest in embedding the software into handsets that could be used to authenticate people who want access to online medical records and other forms of private data.

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