Biometric system on trial for airport security

Published 30 January 2009

Unisys to install iris recognition devices at Australian airports; authorities want to speed up security checks of passengers

Unisys hopes to start trials in Australia this year of a biometric identification system that could lead to faster security checks at airports. The company says it is working with governments and other organizations to pilot a system that allows passengers to be identified by their iris patterns as they walk.

Iris identification systems have previously required people to stand still at a specific spot and have used several cameras to cater for the subjects’ different heights. The new “Iris on the Move” system uses a swiveling camera capable of taking images at a greater distance and with a wider field of view. It can target people walking at a normal pace and match their image against a database containing their details.

At an airport it can speed up the security process by as much as four times, meaning that up to 30 people per minute can potentially pass through a security checkpoint depending on the level of interactive checks done,” Mike Webber, Unisys Asia Pacific manager, enterprise security, told the Australian’s Steve Creedy. Webber said Unisys research indicated that about two-thirds of Australians would be prepared to give banks, governments or other trusted organizations their iris pattern if it meant better security and protection against identity theft. “Our research indicates that Australians strongly support new technologies that provide greater security and by late 2009 we can expect to see ‘Iris on the Move’ technology trialled in Australia,” he said.

Tourism authorities have long complained about the time it sometimes takes to get through Australian border control checks, although many of these complaints center on customers and quarantine procedures that would still need to be carried out.