If you’re like just about everybody, you lock your doors with a technology that’s gone essentially unchanged since 1861. That’s the year Linus Yale, Jr. patented the pin tumbler lock. The Yale lock is a simple, effective mechanism that will likely still be around in another 150 years. But if you want to take your home’s access control technology up a level (maybe five or six levels), then it’s time to start thinking about iris scanning.
How it works
The iris, the ring of color around the pupil of each eye, is the most uniquely identifiable part of your body’s exterior (and much of its interior, for that matter). Most iris-scanning systems work by snapping a high-res photo of your eyes, isolating the iris portion of the image, then running that through a matching algorithm to see if you’re on the guest list. Like fingerprint matching, facial recognition software, and retinal scanning, iris scanning is a biometric technology that compares a person’s unique physical characteristics against a database to verify his or her identity. A positive match, or an “accept” in the tech lingo, can then trigger an event: the decryption of a top-secret document, the launch of a world-destroying weapon, or the unlocking of your bedroom door.
With a false-positive rate of just 1 in 1.5 million, the accuracy of a quality iris scan is bested only by a DNA sample.
With a false-positive rate of just 1 in 1.5 million, the accuracy of a quality iris scan is bested only by a DNA sample (which boasts an immodestly accurate rate of one in 800 trillion). The rate for fingerprints, by comparison, is a meager 1 in 10,000. And voice identification? A paltry one in 500. The cost of these biometric technologies maps pretty closely to their accuracy. If price isn’t a huge concern, iris scanning is the way to go.
It’s worth mentioning that iris scanning is similar to retina scanning, but it’s not the same thing. Retina scanning is an older technology that uses an image of the nest of blood vessels at the rear of your eyeball. Getting that image means waiting for the pupil to dilate and then shining a beam of light through it to illuminate the back of the eye before taking the picture. The accuracy is comparable to an iris scan, but who has time for that kind of hassle?
What you’ll need
If you’re still on board with locking down your pad like it’s Area 51, you’ve got some planning to do. You can’t just pop out the old deadbolt and insert your new scanner. Typically, you’ll also need a securing mechanism, like an electromagnetic lock, and, for the more complex systems, possibly a server running access control software. Then you’ll have to wire those components for power and integrate them together.
But let’s say know a guy so you’ve got that covered. The question then becomes, which iris scanner is right for you?
Locking down your home with eyeball-imaging technology is a pretty innovative move on your part. Right now, there aren’t many iris-scanning solutions designed specifically for the home. You might have to make do with some commercial-grade or military-grade tech. And that is awesome. So let’s get started: