Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Eye Witness New ATM Technology Identifies a Customer by the Iris

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Eye Witness New ATM Technology Identifies a Customer by the Iris

Article excerpt

Imagine stepping up to an ATM that knows who you are just by eyeballing you.

In a few blinks of your eye, a computer system in the automatic teller machine verifies your identity with a camera that scans some of the 400-plus identifying features of your iris and matches them to a database. No match, no money. Sounds like science fiction? Sensar Inc. is hoping its patented IrisIdent system will soon make personal identification numbers and ATM cards obsolete.

"It has a lot of promise for the future," said George Schneider, senior consulting engineer at Dayton, Ohio-based NCR Corp., the world's biggest ATM maker. He said NCR has been talking with Sensar for more than a year on a possible deal.

Japan's biggest ATM maker, Oki Electric Industry, already has signed a $28 million agreement, giving it exclusive rights to the system there. The money will help Sensar, a 4-year-old subsidiary of the David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, further perfect IrisIdent.

Sensar also is pursuing deals with several U.S. banks and ATM makers, Italian and German companies, and government agencies such as the FBI and CIA, said Kevin B. McQuade, the company's vice president for strategic business development.

Huntington Bancshares Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, plans to be an early test site, trying IrisIdent at a handful of ATMs in Ohio late this year.

"I suspect that there will be a significant number of institutions that will find this attractive," said Huntington's chief technology officer, John Voss. "I don't know that there will be a wholesale move to it."

Sensar has plenty of competition in futuristic identification technology: voice prints, fingerprint and signature verification, hand prints, facial recognition, even retina scans.

They're all part of the growing field of biometric identification, which uses unique physical characteristics rather than ID cards or memorized codes to confirm someone's identity.

Already, banks in Arizona, Nevada and Texas require customers cashing checks to provide a fingerprint, according to the American Bankers Association, which has a task force working on ways to stay ahead of criminals. …

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