Iris scans take off at Schiphol

21st July 2003, Comments 0 comments

Sick of queuing at border control? Schiphol's new high-tech iris scan may be the solution.

Faster than a rubber stamp, more secure than a fingerprint, the iris scan has made its debut at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport for priority passengers rushing through passport control.

Planned long before the September 11 terrorist attacks slowed the passage through airports, the iris scan is now being touted as a high-tech tool to foil passport fraud.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Benk Korthals peered into the scanner and registered 266 traits of the colour ring around the pupil of his right eye, making Schiphol the world's first airport to use iris recognition as an identity check.

After a 15-minute registration when the iris data is entered onto the chip of a personal ID card, a passenger can zip through passport control by looking into the scanner for a second or two. The machine compares the structure of the iris to the code on the card.

Glasses and contact lenses are no impediment, the developers said.

Frequent flyers can sign up for the so-called Privium club, which not only allows members to bypass the lengthy line at passport control, but also lets them to park closer to the departure hall and use fast check-in counters.

Cost of membership is EUR 99.

The scan also will be used to identify airport personnel working in secure areas.

After a one-year trial, authorities will decide whether the iris scan can be used permanently and on larger scale.

Schiphol Group, the government company that owns the airport, said the iris scan is the fastest and safest form of biometrics recognition, and is confident it will win approval.

"The iris doesn't change, and iris damage is rare, while a small wound on the finger can already disturb recognition" of a fingerprint, the company said.

ers rushing through passport control.

Planned long before the September 11 terrorist attacks slowed the passage through airports, the iris scan is now being touted as a high-tech tool to foil passport fraud.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Benk Korthals peered into the scanner and registered 266 traits of the colour ring around the pupil of his right eye, making Schiphol the world's first airport to use iris recognition as an identity check.

After a 15-minute registration when the iris data is entered onto the chip of a personal ID card, a passenger can zip through passport control by looking into the scanner for a second or two. The machine compares the structure of the iris to the code on the card.

Glasses and contact lenses are no impediment, the developers said.

Frequent flyers can sign up for the so-called Privium club, which not only allows members to bypass the lengthy line at passport control, but also lets them to park closer to the departure hall and use fast check-in counters.

Cost of membership is EUR 99.

The scan also will be used to identify airport personnel working in secure areas.

After a one-year trial, authorities will decide whether the iris scan can be used permanently and on larger scale.

Schiphol Group, the government company that owns the airport, said the iris scan is the fastest and safest form of biometrics recognition, and is confident it will win approval.

"The iris doesn't change, and iris damage is rare, while a small wound on the finger can already disturb recognition" of a fingerprint, the company said.

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