Iris recognition to accelerate Aadhar's impact: Tamaal Roy

Tamaal Roy of Biomatiques discusses the loopholes in authentication methods and why iris recognition matters in the age of Aadhar. 

Sejuti Das Apr 11th 2017

The increasing importance of creating a digital identity has taken the authentication process to a different level altogether. With the majority of Indian organizations facing challenges with data security, biometrics authentication provides one of the most secure ways of collecting, identifying and utilizing that data. Of the various biometric technologies, iris recognition is considered to be the most trusted form of identity authentication.

A Surat-based company, Biomatiques, claims to be a torchbearer of iris recognition technology. It is the first Indian company to receive the Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) for their iris scanners from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

The company is one of the 13 global players who have patented technology in this arena. On this note, Tamaal Roy, CEO, Biomatiques Identification Solutions describes the technology gap in today's authentication methods and how iris recognition is gaining prominence in the biometric market of India.

Edited Excerpts

What are the changing trends in the India biometrics market as compared to the global regions?

The rising concern about data security has resulted in the increase in demand for biometrics. The initiatives taken by the government of India to adopt biometrics systems for the purpose of identification and verification are fuelling the growth of this market. Use of biometrics in ecommerce and cloud computing solutions are also the key opportunity areas.

We are witnessing a sharp rise in the adoption and acceptance of this technology. In fact, many government offices and shops in the country have introduced Aadhaar enabled biometric systems to either mark their employees’ attendance or verification of an individual.

We have successfully supplied 33,310 biometrics scanners to the government of Andhra Pradesh, which has been implemented for pension and ration distribution. We believe Aadhar will soon be a reality in all walks of life, from digital transactions to government dealings.

Globally, the consumer market is the largest adopter of iris technology followed by government, healthcare, finance, NGOs, law enforcement and defense. Reports also indicate that some of the largest used cases include consumer device authentication, pharmacy dispensing, cashpoint/automated teller machine (ATM) access, aid distribution and fraud reduction.

How do you see iris recognition gaining momentum in a market like India?

More than 70 percent of the Indian population is labor class, which means constant manual labor using bare hands. This creates a possibility of fingerprint change due to cuts, bruises and wrinkles as many of them do not wear any protective gear. Such issues create problems when you have to use a fingerprint scanner, as many times the image does not match with the saved data.

Aadhaar-based initiatives, other public services and government's welfare schemes that use iris technology are gradually changing the security system infrastructure of the country.

However, while all features, organs and limbs in a body can undergo changes on a regular basis, eyes remain same from the time of your birth till death. Hence, iris scanning proves to be one of the most accurate forms of biometric identification, with a False Acceptance Rate (FAR) of 1:12 million, which is unmatched by any other biometric modality.

Iris technology is easy, cheap, fast and extremely accurate, and therefore provides secure transactions and ease of convenience to all classes of people. It also goes several steps beyond the safeguarding of pins, passwords and cards, which have the danger of being copied or stolen. If reports are to be believed, worldwide iris recognition technology market is expected to increase to USD 4.1 billion by 2025.

What are the innovative products and solutions you have for the Indian market?

Currently, we have a flagship product model—EPI-1000—for any Aadhaar enabled service, which provides iris images of exceptional quality for both enrolment and verification. Apart from that, we have several prototype iris scanners that are available for different businesses in different verticals.

We are aggressively focusing on a growth plan, considering the existing market for the delivery of government schemes using Aadhaar enabled services. We are also aligning with several system integrators to develop accurate iris biometric-based identification solutions for the government, BFSI, telecom, automobile and education sector.

How is iris technology going to change the face of the security infrastructure of the country?

Currently, iris technology is the best authentication process available. The technology is usually mistaken as a simple retinal scan, but it actually involves image processing authentication which uses unique patterns that are formed in the iris as a means of identification. Therefore, no two human beings can have the same iris pattern whatsoever.

The Aadhaar-based initiatives, other public services government's welfare schemes that use iris technology are gradually changing the security system infrastructure of the country. It is now being deployed for large scale applications in government supported projects.

Further, iris biometric technology can help practitioners in retrieving medical documents of patients without any gaps and delays. Also, it can be used for security checks at airports and borders.

What is the scope of iris technology in e-governance in India?

We believe iris technology has a humungous scope in e-governance application services such as passport, taxation, healthcare and education. This technology is aimed to strengthen government programs such as Jan-Dhan Yojana and E-Citizen services under the Digital India initiative.

It also has a wide range of applications in government’s initiatives like MNREGA schemes, public distribution system, direct benefit transfer and pension. The technology has already been implemented by the Andhra Pradesh government and we are expecting other state governments to come forward and leverage this revolutionary technology.

Iris recognition could also be used in other government-to-citizen services such as certification, registration, licensing and ID cards, where citizen authentication is imperative in order to control, mitigate and freeze loopholes.