The promise is always that technology will make it better—whatever it may be. Austin Carr’s article, EyeSwipe Nano: Cheap, Dollar Bill-Size Iris Scanner Replaces Card Reader Apps on the Fast Company website, is touting a new iris scanner, which has the word nano in it for the same reason Apple calls one of their products iPod Nano—good marketing (from the article),
“This is going to put the ability to do a biometric scan in the hands of virtually everyone in the world for a price that is comparable and competitive to card readers,” says company [Hoyos Corporation] CDO Jeff Carter, explaining that orders at volume will make the Nano a sub-thousand dollar product. “The Nano has roughly the footprint of a dollar bill, and I think it’s going to allow us to target virtually everything–any applications where you’d have a typical card reader, whether entry to office buildings or banks or apartments.”
Carter says the company’s scanners have already received “tons and tons of business” from around the globe, and pre-orders for the Nano, which begin today, will ship by the end of January. Between the EyeSwipe Nano and EyeSwipe Mini, it almost feels the company is modeling its products and names after Apple’s–don’t the iPod Nano and EyeSwipe Nano have a similar ring? And perhaps it’s no coincidence: Thanks to the device’s shrinking size, Carter says the companies next step is entering the mobile space, allowing Big Brother to scan your eyes on the go.
Carter is not fantasizing as there is a city in Mexico (Leon) which is already testing installations of earlier and current models of the company’s scanners. From an Aug. 18, 2010 article by Austin Carr on the Fast Company website,
Biometrics R&D firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI) [now called Hoyos Corporation] announced today that it is rolling out its iris scanning technology to create what it calls “the most secure city in the world.” In a partnership with Leon — one of the largest cities in Mexico, with a population of more than a million — GRI will fill the city with eye-scanners. That will help law enforcement revolutionize the way we live – not to mention marketers. [emphases mine]
“In the future, whether it’s entering your home, opening your car, entering your workspace, getting a pharmacy prescription refilled, or having your medical records pulled up, everything will come off that unique key that is your iris,” says Jeff Carter, CDO of Global Rainmakers. Before coming to GRI, Carter headed a think tank partnership between Bank of America, Harvard, and MIT. “Every person, place, and thing on this planet will be connected [to the iris system] within the next 10 years,” he says.
Carter has more to say,
Leon is the first step. To implement the system, the city is creating a database of irises. Criminals will automatically be enrolled, their irises scanned once convicted. Law-abiding citizens will have the option to opt-in.
When these residents catch a train or bus, or take out money from an ATM, they will scan their irises, rather than swiping a metro or bank card. Police officers will monitor these scans and track the movements of watch-listed individuals. “Fraud, which is a $50 billion problem, will be completely eradicated,” says Carter. Not even the “dead eyeballs” seen in Minority Report could trick the system, he says. “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.”
It’s definitely an eye-opening view of the future (pun intended). As for not being able to trick the system—there’s always, always a way. And, there’s always a way to abuse it.
Carter’s belief that most people will want to opt in to the system, i.e., voluntarily have their irises scanned is a distinct possibility. After all great swathes of the population have opted into points systems (handed over personal data for tracking purposes) so they can get reduced prices on groceries, airplane miles, etc.