When it comes to unlocking your computer, your smartphone or even your car, your eyeball may soon replace your fingerprint, your password and dedicated buttons.
At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, I met with representatives of EyeLock, which has developed an authentication system that scans users’ irises. Using eye features to identify individuals has long been a staple of science fiction — “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” or “Minority Report,” anyone? — and such systems have been previously been used in corporate environments to guard access to buildings and rooms. EyeLock is hoping they will soon be used by consumers to protect their devices and things.
The company recently released Myris, a portable iris scanner that plugs into a PC’s USB port. After registering their iris patterns with the system, owners can use Myris in place of passwords to log into their computer or particular Web sites.
Myris actually scans both irises at the same time. At least in this iteration, users hold the small ball-shaped device about 6 inches from their faces. In the demos I saw, it took little more than a second or two for Myris to compare a user’s iris patterns with those it had on file.
EyeLock representatives say that iris patterns are much more secure than fingerprints, because they tend to be much more distinct and scanners are far less likely to make a false match.