In the films Minority Report and Demolition Man, and indeed many other sci-fi flicks, iris recognition is used to gain access to top secret files – often with gruesome results.
But very soon the technology could be turned to more mundane applications.
A New York-based biometric security company is set to market an iris scanner that would connect to a personal computer the next few months.
The device will allow users to log into their online banking, social networks and emails – all in the blink of an eye.
Hoyos Group unveiled their new security product, dubbed the EyeLock, at the Finovate financial technology conference, amid claims that it is the first and only portable iris-scanning device for consumers.
The device, which is the size of a standard business card and weighs about 4oz, connects to the user’s computer by a USB cable.
Once the accompanying software package is installed and configured, all the user then has to do to is wave the scanner in front of her eye to automatically log in to any password-protected application or website – whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, PayPal or a bank account.
‘Every time you log in, it reads your iris and creates a unique key, which is a series of numbers, and this key changes every time you log in, so no one can hack it,’ Tracy Hoyos, Hoyos Group’s assistant marketing director,
According to Miss Hoyos, the security offered by iris scans trumps fingerprints, the already widely available biometric alternative. Fingerprints have around 18 unique points to built a indentification profile, while human irises have 2,000.
While governments and financial institutions have tried to implement iris scan security before, Miss Hoyos claims this is the first time the technology has been adapted for consumers.
She said that not only will the technology protect your information better, but it eliminates the need for keeping track of multiple screen names and passwords.
The EyeLock will cost $99 (£60), but no release date has yet been announced. The company has already marketed another iris-scan product used in airport security and is researching ways to expand the service to other areas, including mobile phones.
Of course, squeamish customers may be afraid that data thieves could go to extreme lengths, up to and including butchery, to gain access to their private information.
But they can rest easy. ‘If someone kills you, it won’t work, because once you die your eye automatically flattens so your iris isn’t the same,’ said Miss Hoyos.