The article “Through Airport Security in the Blink of an Eye” discusses the more advanced iris scanner that the company AOptix has developed which they hope to implement in airports to hasten travel times. What they have developed is a machine that is able to perform iris recognition and facial recognition in as quickly as 8 seconds to register someone in the machine’s database. Once in the database, the machine can find the iris and verify a person standing in front of the machine in as little as 1 second from a distance of about 8 feet away. While traditional iris scanners require people to stand a foot away from the scanner and remain very still, this scanner is gaining traction as it can quickly recognize a person from a longer distance and more quickly.
The developers of this machine were originally astronomers, and what they developed in the early 2000s was a technology to see how the atmosphere distorted the light that was reaching their telescopes. What they did was shoot a laser through the atmosphere and use a lens that performed 30,000 calculations a second to see what impact the atmosphere was having on the laser beam. What they ended up doing is developing technology that could send a huge amount of information over a reliable wireless connection, and this is the technology that they are using for their iris recognition. The lens is able to reliably and quickly identify each person standing in front of the machine through finding their iris and analyzing it.
AOptix hopes that by 2020 this technology will be available at major airports across the world to increase travel times. The Dubai International Airport is already currently testing this technology and has seen that immigration wait times have decreased from 49 minutes to about 22 seconds. This would be a great benefit to the travel industry in the United States if the time could be cut down like that, as it sometimes takes upwards of 2 hours to get on a domestic flight, and even longer for international flights. However, there is concern about the safety of this technology. With everyone’s identity stored on the database of this machine, if it were ever hacked people could possibly have their biometric identity stolen. Such privacy issues worry many, as people could easily find a way to use this information to sneak onto flights and pretend to be someone they aren’t. While it takes a long time to currently get on a plane, the reason for this is security and making everyone else is safe. If this technology sacrifices safety to increase speed at airports, it may not be a good idea.
This technology could not only be beneficial for airports, but could be used anywhere to permit access to verified people in a secure way and at a faster pace. While other travel locations could benefit from this such as train stations, secure government locations and even commercial business could benefit from this technology. This could be used to permit clearance at the Pentagon for verified workers, or be used by large buildings in New York City to verify the workers that are entering the building. Companies could verify employees when they enter and leave to provide a more accurate and efficient way to record payroll. These are just examples of how this technology could be utilized in ways other than in airports as it becomes quicker and easier to verify someone’s identity from the unique data their iris provides.