November/December 2010

All in the blink of an eye

A company in Israel has developed a security system that identifies a person by their unique pattern of eye movements, according to Technology Review. Most biometric security systems measure physical features that are constant, such as fingerprints or iris patterns. An eye-tracking system has the potential to be harder to fool and easier use, its creators said.

The new system tracks the way a person's eye moves as he watches an icon roam around a computer screen. The way the icon moves can be different every time, but the user's eye movements include "kinetic features"-slight variations in trajectory-that are unique, making it possible to identify him. This is less complicated than using a long pass phrase or a smart card to gain access to a computer system or a building.

"The interface is really very simple," said Daphna Palti-Wasserman, chief executive of ID-U Biometrics, the company that developed the technology. "The user watches a target moving on a screen and a camera monitors their eye movement responses."

Eye tracking also requires no specialist hardware, other than a camera and a display, so it is cheaper and easier to deploy, Palti-Wasserman said. Using a standard video camera, the system can identify users with an accuracy of 97%. Many cell phones and laptops already have this kind of hardware, so ID-U's system could be deployed widely for desktop and mobile computing. The company is currently working on an app for the iPhone 4.