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Using Retina Scans for Identification

written by: •edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 8/28/2010

When we think of retina scans, many of us think James Bond and super spy techie stuff. Retina scans are used for identification and they have been for quite some time. Here we look at the technology and where they’re being utilized.

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    What Is a Retina Scan?

    800px-Retinal scan securimetrics According to Medical Discoveries, the science of retina scans used for identification purposes is really called Retinography. This process can verify the identity of a person by “reading" or scanning the blood vessel patterns of the retina in one’s eye, hence the words, retina scan.

    Along with Retinography, other biometric identification tools are used in today’s technology world including fingerprint, iris, entire palm scanning, and even face recognition tools. It’s not just for that super spy anymore, and retina scans are being used for identification tools in places you might not be aware of.

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    Who Uses Retina Scans?

    With hardly any room for error in a retina scan (only one in one million), the patterns on the retina truly are unique for every individual, even identical twins. For the most part, government agencies that hold top secret or protected information or historic documents utilize retina scans as a way to verify a person’s identity before he enters a secure location.

    These “places of work" can include government labs, libraries, museums, and various government offices where the general public is not allowed—only the employees who work there are permitted entry through a reading of the blood vessels in the retinography process.

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    How Retina Scans Work

    The process of using retina scans for identification is relatively simple. The person looks into a very small box-like object where infrared light in a low beam scans the retina. The scanner uses a mapping process to trace and verify the person’s eye and compares it to the scan on file.

    Again according to Medical Discoveries, “The scanner measures this reflection at 320 points along the beam path. It then assigns an intensity grade between zero and 4,095." Once the results are compressed, the retina computer data base either confirms or denies access to the building, lab, classified area, or room.

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    How Effective Are Retina Scans?

    450px-Spy museum sign Retina scans that are used for identification are extremely effective but perhaps not so advantageous for the average business or industry. While it is certainly possible for financial institutions to use them at automatic teller machines (ATMs), these types of eye scans mean the person must stand very close to the scanner, which poses a problem to most ATM users, especially those that are either not tall enough to reach the scanner or the handicapped, meaning retinal scanners would have to be implemented at various levels on each ATM machine.

    The process of retina scans is controversial. States, such as Arizona that has passed a new immigration law, are pressing for everyone to comply with retina scans in order to weed out illegal immigrants. This type of citizen database, some feel, is no better than an involuntary DNA database and is a violation of a person’s civil rights.

    With confidential and classified secrets along with plans on how to protect government borders and keep citizens safe from possible terrorist attacks, using retina scans for identification, especially in government or high-level security personnel, appears to be a smart way to keep unwanted or unclassified people away from secure areas.

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    1. Medical Discoveries -
    2. Technovelgy -

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