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NEC develops iris recognition technology that works even with walking subjects

– Walkthrough identity verification using the world's top iris authentication engine –

Tokyo, November 6, 2019NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) today announced that it has developed iris recognition technology capable of highly accurate identity verification of people as they walk past. This makes it possible to implement "walkthrough" ticket gates and security gates that can verify people's identities on the fly without them having to stand still.

Iris recognition is a technique that involves examining tiny patterns in the human iris, which are unique to each individual. In order to do this, it is first necessary to capture highly detailed iris images. Therefore, iris authentication typically requires that the user remains still at a prescribed location in front of a camera, which is then adjusted to the position of the user's eyes. This is a troublesome process, and there have been calls for a more convenient solution.

To address this need, NEC has developed technology that is capable of obtaining clear high-resolution iris images from people as they walk past. We have also accelerated the image processing performed on these images after they have been captured. As a result, we have made it possible to perform the entire identity verification process while the user is walking past.

NEC has already developed Bio-IDiom,*1 a suite of six biometric authentication technologies: iris recognition, face recognition, fingerprint/palm recognition, finger vein recognition, voice recognition, and ear acoustic authentication. These have been incorporated into over 1,000 systems in about 70 countries and territories around the world. In particular, our iris recognition technology is used in applications such as immigration control and national ID services. In iris recognition accuracy evaluation tests*2 performed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is a global authority in this field, our technology was found to achieve the best matching accuracy.

Now, by combining this iris recognition technology with our newly developed imaging technology, we have made it possible to perform walkthrough identity verification instead of requiring people to stand still.

In the future, we expect that this technology will be used in a wide range of fields, such as security authentication in airports and other large-scale facilities, and identity verification at ticket gates for trains and buses. We aim to have this technology in practical use by FY2021.

NEC's plans for the 3-year period ending in March 2021 are set forth in our Mid-term Management Plan 2020. This document describes two policies for business growth: NEC Safer Cities (supporting the creation of cities that embody the values of Safety, Security, Efficiency, and Equality), and NEC Value Chain Innovation (creating new value by sharing information and states of people, products, and processes across the entire value chain). Based on these policies, we aim to implement a rich society through the use of NEC's Bio-IDiom technology, including iris recognition.

Technical features

  1. Obtaining high-resolution iris images
    To obtain high-resolution iris images from people walking at normal speed, we have developed technology that accurately estimates the position of the eye's region of interest (ROI). The ROI is estimated by considering the range of vertical movement of the head that occurs while walking. If only images in the ROI are captured when a person passes through an iris imaging location, then the amount of image data that has to be processed can be greatly reduced. This makes it possible to capture images with high resolution and at high frame rates, which has previously been difficult to achieve. As a result, we can obtain high-resolution iris images from people walking past at normal speed.

  2. High-speed extraction of images suitable for iris authentication from a large number of images
    We have developed image analysis technology that uses a proprietary image quality index to extract high-quality images suitable for iris authentication from a large number of images taken at a high frame rate. This allows iris authentication to be performed on the fly because it is only necessary to analyze the images extracted by this technique, instead of analyzing all the captured images.

For more information:
Iris recognition technology that works even with walking subjects


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