ASIS 2016: EyeLock Iris-Based Biometrics Opens Eyes & Minds
Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer Anthony Antolino discusses the company’s portfolio and why it is primed for a breakthrough.
ORLANDO, Fla. – EyeLock, a leader in advanced iris authentication for the Internet of Things (IoT), showed off its EyeLock Identity Suite and integrations into access control systems such as Lenel OnGuard, Software House C-Cure 9000, and more. The biometrics innovator also showcased nano NXT, its portable iris template solution. The company’s significant IP portfolio, including more than 75 patents and patents pending, and proprietary technology enables the convenient and secure authentication of individuals across physical and logical environments.
The technology and usability of their displayed solutions in Orlando were among the most impressive at the show. SSI spoke with Anthony Antolino, the firm’s chief marketing and business development officer, to learn more about EyeLock and its offerings.
I saw the product. It’s impressive. It looked like there were two main flavors you’re showing. Tell me about each of those, and which are the hot markets for them.
Anthony Antolino: We focus on iris-based identity authentication. We use the color part of your eye to create a secure template that is based on you and only you, because no two people in the world have the same eyes. That’s the important starting point. Then we take that enabling technology and we package it into a couple of different form factors. We have a product called nano NXT, which hangs on the wall. Think about replacing card readers, traditional ID card reader, proximity card reader. So that device will authenticate up to 20 people a minute. We’ve done integrations with Lenel, Software House, Paycom and AMAG, so it’s functionally integrated into their platforms. For particularly large-scale deployments, for your Fortune types of companies, deploying the technology and integrating it is by definition seamless since the end user can focus on using just one software platform to manage all the different types of employee and identity access points. That’s the first one.
Then what we’ve introduced at the show is a new feature to that offering, which is a portable template. The portable template allows your iris template to either be on a proximity card or on your smartphone. So we have an app that works on Android and iOS. What you do is when you’re enrolling in your HR department, you download the app to your phone. That template you use to create at your HR department when you enroll is then ported to the application on your smartphone. And every time after that when you approach a door you want to enter using the nano NXT, we have a reader next to the device that talks via Bluetooth. So your phone would pair with the device, transmit the iris template. You look at the NXT device. It does a one-to-one match and if you have privileges the door opens for you, and you walk through the doorway. This is a really great way to help the end user manage how their credentials are used in different environments.
Then the next product we have is called HBOX. HBOX is a high-volume iris authentication device. That device uses the same enabling technology, and it processes up to 50 people per minute. That device will capture you at about five feet away at the normal walking cadence. There’s no reason to stop. You literally can continue to walk, so it’s a full-motion product. That’s a really great environment for things like credit card facilities or warehouses where really high-value assets are being controlled. Or where you just want to have a really specific and stringent audit process, so you want to know exactly who is going into and out of those environments.
That’s a really good point to make on all of our technology. Not only is it good for managing peoples’ identities and knowing with certainty how moves in and out of what doorways, as opposed to managing a credential, which is really what the market is doing today, but it provides for an auditability. So we know that Tony went through this door at this day and time, from a time stamp perspective. And it’s not just that Tony’s credential or his identity card was used at this doorway. So it really takes out a lot of ambiguity from the market. Where we’re seeing that uptick is a lot in financial services, a lot in healthcare, broad-based enterprise. Those are the big ones.
Can you talk about the company itself? What’s new? What’s different?
Antolino: The company has been around almost 10 years now, and I’ve been with them for five years. We have a new management team that was put in place about five years ago to really help take the company and commercialize it. And since then, we have made an enormous amount of technological breakthroughs and advancements. So particularly in the secured solutions part of our business, which is our access control business line, we have made breakthroughs on our capture distance, so how far away can a user be from the device, in order for it to be a more natural user experience. We’ve made vast improvements there.
We’ve made enormous improvements to all of our algorithms, so you’ll see the speed and reliability of the technology even faster than it already was. So we’re recognizing and authenticating in less than 1 second. So we continue to make investments and improvements on the physics and algorithm side so that we keep pace with user expectations. Then, we continue to keep our ear to the ground so that we can add new features, but also keep pace with expectations. So you heard me talk a bit about the portable template. That’s really a function of understanding what people expect out of the technology that they have available to them on a day-to-day basis.
Smartphones, the world thinks they are not just phones. In fact, it’s more important for everything other than a phone call these days. How can we leverage what it’s capable of for being an adjunct to our core technology, which would be the NXT. We continue to look for new ways in which we can add value and be a really smart solutions provider for the industry. And the industry continues to acknowledge us as a leader. So far, so good as I think we’re delivering new technology to the market. We think there’s a tremendous amount of growth and adoption ahead of where we are today.
What about iris scanning if someone is wearing contacts?
Antolino: I wear contacts. I also wear glasses, obviously. So contact lenses and eyeglasses are not a problem. There are always limitations to everything, so if you wear Halloween-style opaque lenses, like cat eyes or something, that would block the camera from seeing the iris texture. Then you’ll have problems, so that would be equivalent to somebody closing their eyes. You think about it this way. All of our technology is fundamentally an opt-in type of user experience; someone has to engage or look toward the camera in order for the system to see the iris, convert to a template and do the match. If the camera can’t see the eyes, it’s a problem and the system will just sit idle and won’t work. Having said that, some glasses do work. However, polarized sunglasses do not work, simply because the polarized covering deflects the type of illumination that we use to be able to see the iris texture. A lot of physics and technical descriptions, but in simple laymen’s terms, contact lenses and eyeglasses work, no problem.
What about weather, if it’s wet for example?
Antolino: We’re in development now on an outdoor unit. We haven’t announced a launch date of that product yet. That will be fully weather compliant and will work in extreme heat, extreme cold, rain, wind, and all of the usual outdoor environments. It wi
ll do exactly the same thing as our nano NXT, which is our indoor product.
For this show, what’s your hope in coming to it, what are your expectations?
Antolino: We did ASIS last year but had a much smaller space. We were coming out of an exclusive arrangement with Stanley, so in years past we were part of Stanley’s exhibit. They were an absolutely great partner for us. But as we moved from being part of an exclusive partnership with them to a nonexclusive partnership with them, we established our own presence. This year, we have a terrific presence, great size booth. Our goal for the show was to continue to increase our awareness to the end user, which of course ASIS is very much an end-user show. So it gives us the ability to interact with the end user, increase the education of what iris authentication is all about, help in making the end user aware of the simplicity of the technology.
The technology has been around for about 25 years, and so people have a perception around how hard or difficult it is or isn’t to use, and the user experience. Until EyeLock came around and really broke through some of those inherent limitations, they’re right; there have been great obstacles and barriers to entry over the course of time. It was clunky. It was expensive. You had to put your face in like binoculars, and it was not a very friendly technology. You almost only saw them in law enforcement and military and things of that nature. Now, it’s absolutely for everyday environments, from office buildings to banking to lots of different end points.
I think what we’re seeing at this show, with the type of presence that we have here this year is terrific quality. I think the show’s a little quiet this year in terms of attendance, but the quality of the end users that have been coming through, the amount of time they’re able to spend with us and their takeaway is this technology is much easier than we expected. The fact that we’ve integrated with Lenel, Pacom, Software House and AMAG is amazing. That means we can really consider implementing and deploying this and making this into our strategic technology upgrade plans. So it’s been a hit so far. Feedback has been extraordinary for us.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Antolino: Biometrics have become an everyday part of conversation. It’s a very in-demand technology, not just in the physical security world but also in security in general. We’re seeing it on smartphones. We’re seeing it quickly adopted into ATMs and automobiles and business printing machines and things of that nature, which is another side of our business that’s growing rapidly as well. It’s really exciting to see the physical security market embracing biometrics, particularly iris technology, and EyeLock, who’s been around for 10 years helping seed the market and doing the technology breakthroughs. It’s great to see the market adopting the technology and appreciating what’s possible. And the growth of our company is benefiting dramatically, and we are growing by leaps and bounds. It’s a great time for EyeLock.
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