Irish startup develops retina scanning technology for user biometrics and age verification

Startup iKey has developed a technology to scan the optic nerve head with a retinal camera, and then use the image for biometric identification, age verification, and glaucoma risk detection, Silicon Republic reports.

“iKey is a new way to use a photo of the inside of the eye on a mobile phone. It is a new biometric way to distinguish between an adult and a child for internet safety, and it is a way to detect glaucoma – the most common cause of needless blindness globally,” explains iKey Founder and CEO Dr. Kate Coleman.

Coleman is a former consultant ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, who founded the international charity Right to Sight in 2006 to fight preventable blindness. Glaucoma has caused blindness in 4.5 million people globally, and is especially prevalent in Africa. When having her photograph stored at an airport in Kenya, she had the idea of applying AI to retinal images to provide early warning of glaucoma.

By scanning the blood vessels in the optic nerve head, which sits at middle of retina in the back of the eye, the technology can assess the likelihood of glaucoma and recommend an eye exam. It can also biometrically identify a user, and determine with significant confidence if an individual is over or under 16 years old, the company says. Coleman plans to target the smartphone, tablet, and PC markets with the technology.

iKey has developed prototypes, and recently launched a pilot for its age verification capabilities with St. Andrew’s College in Booterstown, near Dublin.

Other biometric age verification technologies, like Yoti’s, are mostly based on facial recognition.

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