Iris Recognition Vs. Biometric Retina Scanning – How Are They Different?

Many people confuse biometric retina scanning with iris scanning, and while they are both ocular based biometric technologies, they are quite different.

Both of these options use Ocular based biometric display technologies that look at the unique physiological characteristics of the subject’s eye for identification purposes. 

Here is a closer look at retinal biometric and iris recognition technologies, how they work, how they are similar, and a few of their differences.

Biometric Retina Scanning

Before you can understand retinal scanning, you first need to understand the retina, which is a thin tissue made up of neural cells and located in the back of the eye. Everyone has a unique retina due to the very complex way the capillaries are arranged to provide a blood supply to the retina. 

In fact, this network of capillaries is so unique that identical twins don’t even have a similar pattern. In most cases, the retina stays the same from birth until death, although it’s possible for retinal degenerative disorders, glaucoma, and diabetes to alter the retinal patterns.

A retinal scan is used to map out an individual’s unique retinal patterns. With the right lighting, it’s easy to identify the blood vessels in the retina, since they more readily absorb light than the tissue surrounding them. 

Retinal scans use an unperceived low-energy bean of infrared light, casting it into the eye when the individual looks through the eyepiece of the scanner.

The light beam traces a path over the retina, and the reflection will vary throughout the scan, since blood vessels absorb ore of the light. The variations in pattern are converted to computer code and then they are stored within a database.

Iris Recognition Scanning

You need to be aware of what the iris is and how it works to understand iris recognition scanning. The iris is a circular, thin structure within your eye, and it works to control the size and diameter of your pupils. This controls the amount of light that is able to reach your retina. 

The color of the iris is actually your eye color, and the iris may be hazel, brown, grey, blue, or green. In some rare cases, it could be pink or violet. The muscles that are attached to your iris contract or expand th aperture at the iris’ center in response to the amount of light that enters your eye. The larger your pupil becomes, the more light can go through it. 

Iris recognition scanning looks involves taking video images of the irides of a person’s eyes and using mathematical pattern recognition techniques on them, since the complex random patterns of the iris are very unique and easy to see, even from a distance.

Iris recognition scanning differs from biometric retina scanning because it uses camera technology along with infrared illumination to get the images of the intricate, detail-rich structure of an individual’s iris. Statistical and mathematical algorithms are used to make digital templates from these patterns, allowing for the positive identification of the person.

Understanding the Similarities and Differences Between Iris and Retina Scanning

Both of these options use ocular based biometric technologies, yet there are some distinct differences and similarities to consider. First, iris recognition makes use of a camera, which allows the information to be captured in a non-intrusive manner. On the other hand, biometric retinal scanning requires a close encounter with the scanning device to capture the retinal image. 

Both of the technologies come with little risk of false negatives or positives, and they both are very reliable.

However, iris scans are easier for individuals to accept because they are less intrusive to the individual, while retinal scanning is often considered to be quite invasive.



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