The eyes have it

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“Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes” might well become the mantra for CISOs addressing mobile device and BYOD security nightmares. For a person on the move, using their biometric characteristics, which they always carry with them, to access their mobile device – and access services via their device – is a no-brainer.

Voice recognition might seem to be the obvious biometric for a mobile phone. Yet Apple is reported to have patented a fingerprint system to unlock the iPhone. And of course it has snapped up AuthenTec, a fingerprint hardware and software developer for $356m. All this points to a future where consumers will be comfortable with fingerprint recognition to access their mobile device.

Would they be just as happy with the phone reading the inner secrets of their eyes? A number of vendors believe so. In recent weeks there have been developments in eye vein, retinal and iris recognition for mobile devices.

EyeVerify has launched a beta of its EyePrint Verification System giving developers access to technology that uses built-in cameras within smart devices to image and pattern match the veins in the whites of users’ eyes. And Fulcrum Biometrics has jumped into bed with IriTech so that Fulcrum Biometrics will be able to offer IriShield iris biometrics software as either a complete USB desktop system or, crucially, as an embedded module for use in portable devices like tablets and smartphones.

More spookily, the US military has engaged Aoptix to spend up to two years researching biometrics for mobile phones including iris capture and recognition at a distance according to Wired– potentially, it seems, without the knowledge or consent of a suspect.

That is all blue-sky stuff for now but technologies developed for the military do have a habit of filtering down into civilian life. O2 Secure Wireless has just launched its FIT (retina and Facial Integration security Technology) software, boasting that it allows a fully functional facial recognition application ‘that otherwise might be limited to advanced installations such as military or government applications’ to be integrated into common security applications.

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