Iris Scanner Identifies a Person 40 Feet Away
Police traffic stops are in the news again, tragically, sparking a new round of discussion on whether and how to outfit police with cameras and other technology.
For several years now, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab Biometrics Center have been testing an iris recognition system that can be used to identify subjects at a range of up to 40 feet.
Like similar biometric technologies — fingerprint or facial recognition systems — the Carnegie Mellon project uses mathematical pattern-recognition techniques. The technology captures images from a live photographic or video feed and runs them through a database to find a potential match.
Like fingerprints, every iris is unique — thanks to enormously complex patterns that remain the same throughout a person’s lifetime. High-resolution cameras can capture images of the iris from a distance using light in the near-infrared wavelength band.
In the realm of law enforcement, iris recognition could be used to identify suspects at long range in various lighting conditions. The system can even be used to capture images through reflections in a mirror.
The CMU team recently posted a video successfully testing the system in a typical traffic stop scenario. Using the long-range iris scanner, the system was able to identify the driver of a vehicle by capturing an image of the eye via the side-view mirror....
This is early in development but significant. We already have license plate readers on police vehicles that can read a plate, query a database and alert an officer for hits (e.g. stolen vehicle, warrants, etc). Think a scanner for checking the iris data of a room full of people could be that far fetched.
What if gangs can develop an online database of LEOs? Radical thought, but not that far fetched. Most officers on the street will have regular interaction with the public. If someone is publicly filming them, can this information be developed? Hell, many officers put it out themselves via Facebook, etc. Of if the police have it in their database, it can be hacked. Once it's in a system it's there for life. Conceivable you could obtain a rookie's iris data, place it into a database and then hold it. Five years later Officer Rookie has moved from patrol to undercover narcotics. And they know who he is.
Yes, I'm taking a few liberties with this, but 40 years ago DNA identification was not even science fiction. Plus we may be able to develop countermeasures to prevent data harvesting. A brave new world we must confront.