Beginning of the end for IRIS?

When I was travelling internationally very frequently, I was a big fan of the UK’s IRIS recognition deployed at some of the busier UK airports. I probably still am, actually.

The system used high defintion photography of your irises, as unique as a fingerprint, as a replacement for showing your passport to an Immigration Officer. It allowed you to cut out a lot of the queueing, and most users were frequent travellers, everyone tended to know what they were doing!

It also didn’t depend on presenting a passport. All it used was the iris photography.

However, it looks like the system’s days are numbered – the IRIS booths in Manchester and Birmingham have been switched off. The booths at London airports (Heathrow and Gatwick) will be operating until at least after the Summer Olympics.

The UK Border Control say they are “reviewing their biometric technology”, which means switching off this really useful system.

I guess I’ll be back to queueing for a booth, waiting for ages, looking at posters containing “tougher checks take more time” hectoring by the authorities.

BBC News Story

1 thought on “Beginning of the end for IRIS?”

  1. Let’s not forget the system was originally introduced in 2004, initially as a pilot. At this time, such use of Iris technology was fairly innovative. That the footprint of the pilot was gradually extended and became a permanent system is indicative that the system was fairly well received. The fact that over 380,000 people have voluntarily enrolled (myself included) makes it difficult to argue that the system is derided.

    In my opinion, the turning off of the system at these two locations is more in line with a planned phasing out of this particular solution, for some rather more mundane reasons:
    http://allevate.com/blog/index.php/2012/02/17/does-turning-off-the-iris-system-at-manchester-and-birmingham-represent-a-failure-of-biometrics/

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