Iris Scanning Set To Secure City in Mexico, Then the World

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GRI's eye scanning devices are set to launch in Mexico. You can bet they'll be coming to you, soon.

The million-plus citizens of Leon, Mexico are set to become the first example of a city secured through the power of biometric identification. Iris and face scanning technologies from Global Rainmakers, Inc. will allow people to use their eyes to prove their identify, withdraw money from an ATM, get help at a hospital, and even ride the bus. GRI's eye scanning systems aren't more secure than others on the market, but they are faster. Large archway detectors using infrared imaging can pick out 50 people per minute, even as they hustle by at speeds up to 1.5 meters per second (3.3 mph). The first phase of the Leon iris and face scanning project has already begun. It is estimated to cost around $5 million and focuses on law enforcement agencies' security check points. Over the next three years commercial uses will be rolled out with banks leading the charge. Check out the videos below to see GRI's wide range of iris scanning stations in action. Whether you're jealous or intimidated by Leon's adoption of widespread eye identification you should pay attention to the project - similar biometric checkpoints are coming to locations near you. Some are already in place.

When it comes to biometric identification, fingerprints are the most widespread and trusted technology. Yet they only contain a few dozen data points to link to your ID. Irises, in contrast, have around 2000 points of reference - enough to uniquely identify every person on Earth. Many companies have developed the means to take an iris scan and use these reference points to match them quickly to a database of scans. The problem has typically been that getting the image of the iris itself is slow and requires people to come very close to the scanning device. GRI has focused on improving the iris acquisition side of the technology, increasing the speed and range of their devices. Not only that, but they are bringing the costs down. A 30 person per minute device (the HBox Mini) costs around $48,000. Yet smaller devices, ones suitable for ATMs or desktop computers are falling below $2000. As they become faster and more affordable, the adoption of iris scanners is seemingly becoming more inevitable as well.

Here's a demo of the larger devices from GRI. Notice that masks and sunglasses are generally not going to deter a scan:

The HBox V provides rapid access to restricted areas for those in cars at a rate around 12 people per minute.

Smaller devices like the EyeSwipe and EyeSwipe Mini could work for secured locations in an office. According to Fast Company, this scale of iris scanning tech is in place in Bank of America's headquarters in Charlotte.

The HCam would provide a means of iris identification for computers and ATMs.

My apologies for showing so many different videos of GRI technology but I wanted to give you an idea of how completely the company has encompassed the application space for iris and face scanning. From large foot trafficked areas, to automobiles, to home use they've got it covered. They don't have a handheld portable scanner that I've seen...but give them time and they'll probably develop that as well.

This makes me believe GRI's implementation in Leon is eventually going to exceed anything we've seen before. Every other means of access (license, credit card, keys, etc) has the potential of being augmented or replaced by iris and face scanning. Get on a bus, pass security on the way into work, pay for a meal, order packages online - all without using anything besides your eye. The Leon project could make this futuristic world appear in just 3 to 5 years. That's incredible.


We have to put this in a larger context, too. India just launched its enormous effort to digitally identify more than a billion residents using fingerprints, face, and iris scans. Japan already uses finger scans during entry into the country. The EU is working on a variety of passive scanning technologies to help secure airports and other public spaces.

To some these emerging applications must seem like the sign of a privacy apocalypse. Government and commercial institutions will endeavor to create enormous shared databases of biometric data and scan huge numbers of private citizens everywhere they go. The first phase of the project in Leon is going to help track the movements of 'watch-listed individuals'. Rapid scanning face and iris scanning technologies will redefine our sense of privacy in ways that make Big Brother seem like a little sissy.

Jeff Carter, chief business development officer of GRI, didn't make any of this sound less threatening in his interview with Fast Company's Austin Carr:

"...we've even worked with three-letter agencies on technology that can capture 30-plus feet away. In certain spaces, eventually, you'll be able to have maybe one sensor the size of a dime, in the ceiling, and it would acquire all of our irises in motion, at a distance, hundreds--probably thousands as computer power continues to increase--at a time."

"...If you've been convicted of a crime, in essence, this will act as a digital scarlet letter. If you're a known shoplifter, for example, you won't be able to go into a store without being flagged. For others, boarding a plane will be impossible."

For commercial applications it's just as incredible:

"Right now, we can determine how many eyeballs are on a Web page. And what you look at and click. For the first time, we can do that in a physical world. If you look at this or that advertisement, and then go purchase the product advertised, we can tie those two things together."

"When you get masses of people opting-in, opting out does not help. Opting out actually puts more of a flag on you than just being part of the system. We believe everyone will opt-in."

Does that vision sound ominous to you? It does to me, and I'm pretty biometric friendly. Yet I'm also fairly cynical. People already have a pretty good handle on my information. Google reads all my emails, albeit in an anonymous way. My bank knows most everything I buy, ditto for credit card companies. As Carter points out, I already deal with these commercial trackers every day. And I've opted into these systems. I could pay for everything with cash, but I find the convenience of plastic too great to ignore. While I'm worried about being verbally assaulted by billboards that try to identify me, they're going to arrive whether I want them to or not.

Rather than fight the advent of biometrics, I'd rather focus on controlling how such data is used. We can pressure governments to insure that people are not unjustly placed on watch-lists. We can require businesses to divorce our identities from collected data to make advertisements anonymous even as they are personalized. We can limit who can use these technologies, and how, even as we accept that they will be widely adopted in the future. Now is the time, as the first cities test the feasibility of biometric ID systems, to ensure that they will be used to benefit rather than restrict the individual. The crucial moment to guide the path of this emergent technology has arrived. Blink and you could miss it.

[image credits: Austin Carr/Fast Company]

[source: GRI, Fast Company]

Discussion — 17 Responses

  • BigBrutha September 27, 2010 on 1:30 am

    Wow, great, I need to get myself the 2K version so I can take a few snapshots some senator’s eyes so I can hang out in congress and then check into his iris scan ATM bank account and take everyone out to brunch!

    And if other countries such as Russia, China, and Pakistan demand that you have your iris scan to enter their country, could they use your iris code to breach or misuse your identity? I am sure the Russian Mafia will pay big bucks for such valuable information.

    So I am having a few drinks waiting for my delayed flight, oops, them five drinks may have been too much since now my pupils are very dilated which has changed my iris structure and then refused my flight. Or them new medications which either constricted or dilated my pupils won’t allow me to take out any funds from my ATM.

    What about the factor of Aging irises which may cause problems or whether eye disease such as stigmatisms, cataracts, inflammations could cause iris recognition systems to fail? I bet this consideration has not been well researched.

    The next step will be the insurance companies buying up all your iris scanned images to see if you have any health problems, on certain drugs (pharma and illicit), neurological diseases, syndromes and then cancel your insurance if you are too high of a risk. Google pupil analysis or check out to see what various pupil signs can indicate.

    Then the day comes when you also get your eyes analyzed by the DEA to make sure you are smoking any of them herbal stimulants! Different drugs have different effects on the pupils and soon the police will be using eye scans to check for possible illicit drug use while driving your car, which may not be a bad thing.. unless you are taking some other doctor prescribed medication that mimics the same response as some illicit drug and spend time in jail until you can prove your innocence. Attorneys will love this new cash cow technology!!

    If all fails you can always look forward to the new breed of cosmetic surgery that will allow you to change your iris structure in case you need a new identity… 😉

    • Mr Rogers BigBrutha October 1, 2010 on 5:50 pm

      you are so correct

    • Ken BigBrutha October 4, 2010 on 3:17 pm

      “Russian Mafia”??? Oh you mean the corporate Khazar Oligarchies in Russia along with the Kosher Mafia…

      Sorry buddy, those people are now in America, they are called Khazar Jews. Same people who did the 9/11 demolition and LIED about the fake HollowHoax. Same people who own and run your Mass Media and Federal Reserve.

      That is… Unless you are still brainwashed by the Khazar Mass Media and believe the 9/11 Arab Conspiracy Theory or maybe you still believe the Holocaust German Conspiracy Theory?

      Your mind and body are already controlled buddy. The Iris Scan, is to control those of us whose minds and bodies are not already under control of the Khazar pipe dreams.

    • Eldogbbhed BigBrutha February 2, 2011 on 9:27 pm

      Pupil dilation doesn’t affect the IRIS structure or the scan. That’s why it’s canning your iris, not your PUPIL which is not unique.

  • JB September 27, 2010 on 1:44 am

    The sur-realities of dystopian sci-fi seem to be coming true.

    • Vic JB September 30, 2010 on 3:24 pm

      They put technology that you saw in ten or 20 years ago via tv or toons wake up people thouse thechs are old is nothing new, the fact is they say that is scy fi but is not. This is the illuminati plan NWO

  • CriminalMastermind September 27, 2010 on 7:10 am

    there are two reasons why this will never be the uber-security tool in open spaces as they claim:

    hat and sunglasses (doh!)

    • Adsaenz CriminalMastermind September 27, 2010 on 4:56 pm

      These systems can work even when people wear masks and sunglasses – see the first video. Hats shouldn’t be an issue, depending on orientation.

      • Anonymous Adsaenz September 29, 2010 on 9:32 am

        Well, here’s the State’s response to you idea

        I find it funny that you folks think that 1984, Brave New World, The Shape of Things to Come are merely works of fiction. Since Jeremy Bentham designed the Panpticon in 1785 every aspect of technological development has carefully crafted by the plutocrats.

        Check out Bill Joy’s “Why the future doesn’t need us” for the End Game.

        Transhumanism is just marketing for the dehumanized Brave New World where production is automated, real science and art are dead and replace by cheap consumerism, Body enhance is the new name for a caste system of gammas, Betas, ,Alphas, etc… Don’t worry folks you as you won’t be around to see this future as just like in the book there will be a WWIII and you will most likely be killed.

        The time line is 1984 (i.e. the War on Terror lending into WWIII) to Brave New World (Post WWIII) to forced human extinction by uploaded minds of the plutocrats that will then take to the Stars to find other peoples and planets to rape.

        In Short, Transhumanists are crazy rich people who want to be like Galactus, the devourer of Worlds.

        I believe in technology that actually let’s people have control over their own lives rather forcing them into anti-human controlled environments like Facebook with it’s behavior control paradigm that turn people into zombies that must push buttons every 45 minutes like they are characters on the second season of Lost.

        History will prove that washing machine was a far more important invention than the internet as it does actual physical work and helps women in particular and the internet craze will be looked something like the 14th century flagellents but instead of whips we we used facebook for mental mortification which basically means that 21st century folks have upgraded from thick skinned idiots just a bunch wussy idiots that a good deal more fat.

        At least the 2012 Aliens will find us a good deal more tasty because I’m pretty sure the UN New office of Alien Relations will handle the situation in deal which end half of us enslaved and other half eaten.

        That’s it I’m done…

  • BradLBurge September 27, 2010 on 10:59 am

    An international iris scan database is inevitable and likely to arrive much sooner than most of us can imagine.

  • guest September 27, 2010 on 4:57 pm

    yeah right guys…

    you think that they haven’t thought of this (hat, sunglasses, pictures)?

    There may be technology that circumvents this, it isn’t going to be nearly as easy as you guys picture it.

  • jgehrke September 27, 2010 on 7:41 pm

    Thank goodness we’re quite a ways from any Minority Report version.

  • Peter September 29, 2010 on 4:16 pm

    All the videos are PR work provided by the company. You want to know how much money Leon spends for projects like this? Look it up:

    Portoss SA is the company Global Rainmakers is doing business with in León. 5 million bucks? I don’t see 5 million anywhere. My wish: Stop repeating the trash, Global Rainmakers is publishing to get some attention.

  • Soulreacticator October 1, 2010 on 5:59 pm

    The sad thing about this iris scan. Billion’s of people will Rejoice with gladness,when this goes mainstream and will place there trust in the B.E.A.S.T. world system. When you you people wake up be it is to late.

    • blah Soulreacticator October 2, 2010 on 4:50 pm

      Like barcode technology was mark of the beast?
      Like RFID was mark of the beast?

      Did you ever hear the story of ‘Cry Wolf’?

      • Eldogbbhed blah February 2, 2011 on 9:34 pm

        There’s more than one way to skin a cat…and fill a prophecy/PROBABILITY…if people aren’t fully aware and vigilant that the barcode, the new barcodes- those square ones…the RFID, the SIM card in your mobile that could just as easily be in a watchband, etc. and ones not discovered are all candidates for being the ‘Mark’…and life was fine without them.

  • Dan October 1, 2010 on 6:27 pm

    The Mexican drug lords will have Iris scanners now? I’d hate to be their competition!