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How Iris and Retina Scan Enhance Facial Recognition

How Iris and Retina Scan Enhance Facial Recognition

Author: teresa_myers | 27 May 2024

Facial Recognition is becoming common but with technological advancements like AI, manipulating and spoofing facial identity verification is becoming easier. To prevent this, identity verification solutions should employ a foolproof approach to provide unique identifiers and secure credentials to users.

There’s a saying,

“One Glance: No Words Required.”

The human eye is the most complicated and unique organ that can offer a distinctive identity to everyone on Earth. Verifying identities through a simple gaze has made the process effortless. This is because the cutting-edge Iris & Retina scanning perfectly epitomizes the quote mentioned earlier. Since the eyes are a part of the human face, thus facial recognition must also incorporate Iris and Retina scanning to enhance identity proofing. 

Iris and Retina scanning can provide a highly accurate and effective identity verification method as it can help detect facial liveness. However, the concern that identity solutions need to address is whether combining both Iris & Retina and facial scanning is a suitable approach for third-party identity solutions or not. Let’s find out.

Key Takeaways

  • Both Iris & Retina scanning are biometric identity verification methods but use a distinct part of the human eye for verification.
  • Iris fits better with facial recognition technically due to speed, accuracy, and other variables.
  • Iris also strengthens the overall facial identity verification as the eye is a part of a human face and scanning Iris with the face will fortify the overall identity-proofing process.
  • Facia offers a complete identity solution using Iris and face recognition together alongside high speed and efficiency.

What is Iris Recognition?

Iris refers to the colored part of the eye which is unique in every human being. Iris Recognition for identity verification gives a highly accurate biometric way of authenticating users by scanning their Iris pattern.  

What is Retina Scanning?

Retina scanning is another biometric technique that uses the human eye for verification but with a difference in that it scans the blood vessels present in the human eye’s retina. This pattern of blood vessels is also unique and different in every human being.

Both Iris recognition and Retina scan are done using the following input methods:

  • A high-quality printed photo of the eye
  • A newly captured photo of an eye in high-resolution
  • A video of the human eye in multiple frames

Once the required input image is captured by an Iris or Retina scanner, it then uses the relevant technology such as infrared light to scan the Iris at high intensity and the Retina at lower. Finally, it uses AI algorithms to process the image of an eye and carry out identity matching process.

Iris Scan vs. Retina Scan

This image explains Iris recognition and Retina scanning distinctively discussing NIST’s benchmark standards of accuracy for both.
Iris Recognition SystemBiometric Retina Scan
  • High-Resolution Cameras
  • High-Intensity Infrared Light
  • Artificial Intelligence:
    • Pattern Recognition Algorithms
    • Image Processing and Image Matching Algorithms.
  • Optical Coupler
  • Low-Intensity Infrared Light
  • Artificial Intelligence:
    • Pattern Recognition & Image Processing Algorithms.
Biometric Feature 
  • It scans the Iris pattern which is the colored part of the eye that surrounds the pupil.
  • Pupil dilated and contracts based upon certain conditions and light exposure that may affect the scan match accuracy rate due to varied lighting conditions.
  • It captures the pattern of blood vessels present in the white part of the eye that surrounds Iris.
  • The accuracy of retina scanning may be affected by varied health conditions such as blood pressure, stress, etc.
Scanning Speed & Convenience
  • Faster recognition speed
  • Better user experience
  • Applicable to large population settings such as pedestrian detection.
  • Relatively slower recognition speed.
  • Becomes cumbersome and irritating for users as it may require them to sit still without blinking for more time.
  • Its use is limited to highly sensitive and maximum security clearance conditions.
Scanning Proximity
  • Iris can be scanned from a close proximity say few meters based upon the quality and resolution of scanning device.
  • The retina can only be detected when a human eye is brought at a distance of few inches from the scanner.
  • Iris Recognition according to NIST is 90 to 99% accurate.
  • Iris Recognition’s FAR is 1 in 1.2 million (approx. 0.000000833).
  • The FAR (False Acceptance Rate) of Retina Scanning as per NIST is 0.0001%.
  • Retina scan is 70 times more accurate than Iris Recognition.

Iris Recognition & Retina Scanning: Which one is better?

The National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) advocates the use of Iris recognition technology based on its benefits especially the ability to scan Iris from a distance. On January 18th, 2024 NIST published its API v3.0 report on the use of still face and Iris photographs primarily in 640X480 resolution for 1:N identification. The new version allows the use of 1:N identification for Iris images which has now replaced the IREX 10 submission protocol.

The above knowledge shows that the biometric industry benchmark advocates the use of the Iris recognition technology over retina scan biometrics as it can be used with AI facial recognition from a distance as well as proximity. 

Furthermore, NIST’s 1:N matching is also applied to Iris recognition as well as facial recognition together. Hence, third-party identity solutions should also use Iris recognition software in their facial recognition solution to enhance overall biometric identity verification.

Benefits of Using Iris Recognition in Facial Identity Proofing

Iris recognition can enhance facial identity verification in the following ways:

  • The accuracy in face matching in both 1:1 and 1:N is enhanced as there will be 2 different biometrics identity verification methods.
  • Identity verification time can be maintained as both Iris and facial liveness checks can be executed in the same time frame through a single high-resolution camera.
  • The overall security of digital identities is improved by using this dual-factor authentication approach as it prevents identity spoofing risks.
  • Iris patterns remain stable for a lifetime hence offering greater reliability even if other facial features are damaged.

Iris Recognition & Factor of Liveness Detection

Facial identification primarily conducts a two-way liveness check:

  • Active Liveness prompts users to perform certain actions in front of the liveness detection system.
  • Passive Liveness that automatically detects facial liveness through advanced AI algorithms.

Iris recognition can strengthen both active and passive liveness detection as in active liveness the action of blinking or rolling eyes can be enhanced by detecting Iris patterns in different angles.

Iris recognition can fortify passive liveness as Iris scanning itself is a unique biometric identifier and is difficult to spoof.

Challenges in using Iris Recognition for Facial Recognition

Firstly it is the cost-to-benefit ratio that should be the main concern of identity solution providers while integrating Iris pattern recognition in facial IDV. Then there can be a few challenges faced by these solution providers and users.

  • Technological limitation of maintaining efficiency, accuracy, and speed while integrating Iris and Facial Recognition.
  • Iris recognition may be suitable separately for many businesses as facial recognition itself can sometimes raise privacy concerns where people might be hesitant to use their faces for identification everywhere.
  • Iris recognition may also increase the overall technology cost and overall verification time in some cases.

Facia’s Iris Recognition: Complete Solution for Biometric Verification Through Eyes & Face

Facia is a one-stop identity solution with a belief that identity verification should be 100% foolproof and to achieve it, Facia leaves no stone unturned in bringing you a highly accurate and swift liveness detection in facial recognition. Facia is an AI-powered identity-proofing system that is fully capable of detecting the liveness of users in under one second and ensuring no fraudster bypasses the system. Facia integrates Iris recognition with Facial recognition alongside offering a liveness detection speed of under 1 second with a 0% FAR. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a retina scan?

Retina scan is a biometric scanning method of verifying identities. It employs the retina pattern scanning of the human eye to recognize human identity.

How Does a retina scan work?

A retina scan detects the Retina pattern present in the white part of the human eye which is the vein pattern that is unique for every human being offering a unique identifier.

what is iris recognition?

Iris recognition is another type of human eye verification method that uses Iris pattern scanning which is the colored part of the eye that surrounds the pupil.

how does iris recognition work?

Iris recognition works by scanning the Iris part of the human eye from an eye image provided in a printed photo or by capturing a fresh image of the eye or a video.

what is iris recognition used for?

Iris recognition is highly useful in large population areas such as street surveillance, banks, or shopping malls. It is also used in banks for user onboarding or before the issuance of government Identities.