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Germany

An eye for an eye for an eye

Soon, cash dispensing machines will look you right in the eye before you get your money out. The machines will know who you are because hidden cameras pinpoint the coloured part of the eye

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Facing the digital future

Companies are starting to work on how to make the most of new security technology in the wake of the September 11 attacks. New identification systems promise to recognise people by focusing on their unmistakable human characteristics.

Traditional identification systems on the other hand, check whether a valid identification or key is being used or whether secret PINs or passwords are known.

The new recognition technology works by training a video camera on the iris, the coloured part of the eye surrounding the dark pupil.

Each person has a pattern in their iris as distinct as their fingerprint. Unlike the retina - the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eyeball - the iris does not change with age or need to be scanned using intrusive infrared light.

The procedure takes less than a few seconds using a camera two feet away. It can be fully computerised with voice prompts and auto focus. Security vendors say their biometric identification systems will soon be everywhere.

Germany looking to tighten airport security

The federal mint in Germany has expressed great interest in the new technology to make passports and id-cards safer.

They are also hoping to introduce the facial recognition systems at the country’s borders.

Germany is following the lead of the US authorities, who are already set to introduce digital facial recognition systems at airports in an attempt to weed out suspected terrorists before they can mount attacks.

The use of biometric software for identification purposes has obvious security advantages. It eliminates the misuse of lost or stolen cards and, in certain applications it allows PINs to be replaced with biometric characteristics.

Operators could also benefit from improved efficiency in situations where access control to buildings or strong rooms is automated.

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