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Corning report suggests iris biometrics improvements with new liquid lens technology

New technology to optimize optical systems’ focus
Corning report suggests iris biometrics improvements with new liquid lens technology

Materials science innovation firm Corning has released a new report describing a technique to improve iris biometrics with liquid lens technology.

The publication comes specifically from one of Corning’s business teams, Corning Varioptic Lenses, which focuses on the development of adjustable lens solutions for industrial applications.

According to the new paper, iris recognition and biometric verification systems are becoming increasingly widespread, thanks to the high level of security that derives from the iris’s unique and distinguishable features.

However, for these systems to be effective, they need to be able to capture high-image resolution photos while also keeping the image in focus.

The study mentions how many of the biometric requirements related to iris recognition today were first established by a paper published by Cambridge University in 2007 and dubbed “New Methods in Iris Recognition.” In that paper, John Daugman described various “disciplined methods” designed to detect and accurately model the iris inner and outer boundaries with active contours.

The study also examined Fourier-based methods for solving problems with iris trigonometry and projective geometry, as well as examining statistical inference methods for excluding eyelashes.

Xavier Berthelon, an engineer in optics and imaging at Corning and author of the liquid lenses study, argues that systems capable of delivering Daugman’s high-precision results are traditionally bulky due to the optical constraints of mechanical lens-based cameras. This also makes them considerably expensive.

The new study aims at reducing the footprint of these systems, increasing their efficiency, and reducing their cost by introducing liquid lens devices.

The technology behind liquid lenses is called electrowetting and works by emulating human eyes’ fluid and their adaptable characteristics to create a rapid response in variable light and movement scenarios.

It is important to note, however, that while the integration of a liquid lens within the optical system improves the final resolution and focus of the image, it does not directly increase the system’s depth of field. Instead, the technology allows the system to automatically adjust focus and maximize the sharpness on the user’s eye region with a fast response time of approximately 10 ms.

Liquid lenses also eliminate the need for mechanical parts that are the staple of traditional camera systems, and that are subject to wear down during use, according to the report.

Thanks to these features, liquid lenses can reportedly endure hundreds of millions of cycles with low power consumption and at a speed consistently to conventional actuators.

Corning specified that liquid lenses can be integrated into an existing optical biometric system either as an add-on, being placed either at the front or at the rear of the optical system, or as an add-in component, in which case they have to be integrated within the optical stack.

As far as real-world applications are concerned, Berthelon’s study describes a number of commercial, governmental, and forensic uses for the new biometric recognition technology.

These range from verifying financial transactions at ATMs, in healthcare, and for access control, to national ID cards, border and passport control, and criminal investigation and suspect identification.

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