Don’t authenticate until you see the whites of their eyes: A conversation with EyeVerify CEO Toby Rush

September 4, 2014 - 

Toby Rush is a serial entrepreneur having successfully started up two previous technology companies before EyeVerify. Now, on the heels of new funding, his current company is set to take some major leaps in the mobile authentication space, working directly with smartphone OEMs.

EyeVerify has been around since 2012 and in its short life has seen major growth. According to Rush, there are a number of factors that have influenced this and his company is in a good position to influence mobile authentication.

“It’s been a fast ride, as well as an expensive one,” Rush said. “We’ve raised now, with this last round, 10 million dollars.”

Reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, the company recently completed a funding round led by Qihoo 360, Wells Fargo and Sprint.

According to Rush, the new capital will be spent on sales and marketing, as well as the development of a next-generation product.

EyeVerify’s flagship product – Eyeprint ID – delivers password-free secure authentication for mobile devices by using existing front-facing cameras in smartphones to image and pattern-match blood vessels in the whites of users eyes.

“We match our template in the encrypted space. When we take an eyeprint template, we actually store that locally on the device and we encrypt it using local device information. Effectively, that template is bound to that device. That’s the enrollment,” Rush said. “When we do verification, we actually do the matching in the encrypted space. We never unencrypt that template – you never get back to the raw biometric.”

“The lack of hardware – being completely software driven – has allowed us to move a lot faster. And also, not being part of a big company or an initiative of the government, not an initiative of the ‘surveillance market,’ we’ve been able to be a lot more focused and a lot more nimble,” Rush said.

“When I started the company, Apple had not bought AuthenTec,” he said. “Apple’s move then spurred other OEMs –Android, Microsoft etc., to really take a hard look at biometrics. I think Touch ID has been very successful, by just about everybody’s measures. It’s had its quirks but I think it’s overall been successful in terms of what it delivers to consumers.”

“It’s no secret that every smartphone manufacturer is out there talking to every biometrics company there is,” Rush said.

“Another trend that has helped us is the selfie,” Rush explains. “With front-facing cameras, everyone is taking pictures of themselves. I remember when I first launched the company, people asking me how fast front-facing cameras were going to develop, if there were use-cases. To make our stuff sing, we can work on 1-2 MP cameras, but to get that really clean natural experience you need a five or eight MP camera. Well, guess what – there are a whole lot of five to eight MP cameras coming to market today, and these will be the standard fare on all new devices,” Rush said. “It’s not because of us – it’s because people are taking pictures of themselves. That has been a boon that was not expected and it accelerated the speed of which we have been able to engage with OEMs.”

Also reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, EyeVerify last year announced its patent for spoof detection in biometric authentication.

According to Rush, EyeVerify has already made use of this patent and his team is currently working on an upgrade to the algorithm now that will be launched in late-September.

“You’ve got to spend a lot of time on spoofing because it’s incredibly important,” Rush said.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for BiometricUpdate.com. His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for CBCNews.ca, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj