Iris scanning: Sensar Inc.'s SecureCam

There are currently only two vendors of iris scanning systems: IriScan Inc.

and Sensar Inc. IriScan holds the worldwide patent for iris recognition

technology and licenses it to Sensar, which has developed and marketed two

iris recognition products, SecureCam and soon-to-be-released SecureCam II.

Both products support the Human Authentication Application Programming

Interface (HA-API) and the Biometric Application Programming Interface (BAPI).

These two APIs are standards that allow iris recognition solutions to be

integrated into custom-developed applications such as the BioNetrix Authentication

Suite and SAFLINK Corp.'s Secure Authentication Facility for NT Workstations

(also called SAF/nt), which came with our review unit.

Iris recognition technology works well for both desktop PC log-in and

physical access applications. The SecureCam products are designed for use

with desktop PCs.

Irises are an excellent biometric to measure because they have hundreds

of minutiae points, or identifiable features. What's more, those points

remain stable throughout a person's life and they are all unique. The same

person's two irises differ from each other, and identical twins even have

different iris patterns.

Iris recognition works by taking a video image of the eye. The process

is noninvasive and uses the same low levels of illumination that camcorders

use. The system randomly generates a 512-byte hexadecimal code extracted

from the structure and pattern of the iris.

We tested the Sensar SecureCam, which consists of a camera that comes

in parallel port and USB versions (we tested the parallel), Biometric Service

Provider (BSP) software that is proprietary to the camera, and the SAFLINK

software. The parallel connector allows another parallel device, such as

a printer, to be used with the PC at the same time.

Setup was a breeze. We simply plugged the camera into the appropriate

port, installed the BSP software and installed SAF/nt. Enrolling users was

fairly easy as well. The user picks up the camera, holds it a few inches

from the eye and focuses on a yellow light within a target area inside the

camera. Different people will have different focal lengths, so users will

have to move the camera closer to or further from the eye to get the proper

focus. It takes a few seconds for the camera to capture a good image of

the iris, and then the process is finished.

Logging in with an iris is quick and easy. First you need to press CTRL-ALT-DEL

at the SAFLINK log-in window, then enter a username and domain and click

Logon. An Iris Logon box appears with a ready indicator and a Photograph

button. After you click the Photograph button, red lights on the camera

flash to let you know it's on and ready to scan your iris. Then you pick

up the camera and focus on the yellow light. As soon as the iris image is

captured, the system logs you in.

SAF/nt is extremely easy to use because it integrates seamlessly with

the Windows NT User Manager. It adds a Biometric button to the New User

window, and this button is used to enroll users biometrically and access

all other biometric information about the user.

Users enrolled biometrically do not have the option to use a password

to log in, so if the biometric cannot be used, the administrator must disable

biometric authentication for that user account. In addition to login functions,

SAF/nt for workstations includes an optional protected screen saver that

requires a biometric to unlock.

One other note about the SAFLINK software: Iris recognition is not the

only biometric supported by SAF/nt. You can also use fingerprint recognition,

voice verification and face verification with it. Visit

for an updated listing of qualified third-party BSPs that work with SAFLINK's


The SecureCam system's list price is $300. The SecureCam II is not available

at press time but should be available shortly. It will be able to perform

iris recognition from a distance of 16 to 20 inches, so a user should be

able to scan an iris simply by looking at the camera mounted on the monitor

rather than picking it up to focus. In addition, the SecureCam II can be

used as a World Wide Web camera for video teleconferencing. It will have

a list price between $275 and $300, and with quantity discounts the price

could come down to $175 each.

SecureCam works with Windows 95/98, NT 4.0, and Windows 2000, as will

SecureCam II. An enterprise version of the SAFLINK software — SAF2000 — works with both NT and Novell Netware networks.



Sensar Inc.

(888) 4-SENSAR

Accuracy: Extremely accurate.

Ease of use: ***


intrusiveness: Not at all intrusive.

Ease of setup: ****

Ease of

enrollment: ****

Price: $300


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