Iris Scanner Identifies a Person 40 Feet Away

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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.

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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.

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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. You can see the results below.

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