New iris scanner makes Minority Report look like the Flintstones – #WTFWednesday

3 min read

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high-tech iris scanner

You’ve already seen iris-scanning technology in movies. Like Minority Report, where every time Tom Cruise wants to walk through a door all he has to do is flash his eyes at a scanner on the wall.

And it’s pretty impressive technology, in an early-2000s sci-fi kind of way. Much easier than carrying a key around, anyhow.

But compared to the newest real-life iris scanners, the ones in Minority Report are like something from the Stone Age.

Because now, iris scanners don’t need to get so close. They can recognize your iris and identify you from up to 40 feet away.

You don’t even have to be looking at the new scanner. “Most iris based biometric systems require a lot of co-operation from the users,” says the project’s web page. Yeah… that’s because it’s a breach of our rights to take personal data without asking.

So in a nutshell, you’re not in control of your own iris ID anymore. Anyone could scan your iris and monitor your activity. And you won’t even know it’s happening.

‘It’s actually finding my face’

The new “long-range iris acquisition system” has been developed by the Carnegie Mellon University. The prototype is a bulky machine. But like all surveillance technology, it will soon be shrunk down to a size that’s easy to hide from view.

In the video below, inventor Marios Savvides demonstrates how the spy device can be used to steal your iris identity while you’re pulled over in your car. He’s pretty pleased with himself—as though his invention isn’t a gross invasion of your privacy.

“What’s the first thing you do when you get pulled over? You naturally look in your side mirror to see what’s going on.

“But as I’m looking in the mirror right now, it’s actually finding my face, detecting my eyes.

It’s segmenting the iris region, extracting features and then matching them to find out who I am.”

In other words, it’s the ultimate hidden surveillance device. Watch the video and prepare to creeped out!

Tag-teaming on your privacy?

The thought of a camera being able to recognize your iris and identify you while you’re driving is worrying enough. But when you think about how this new long-range iris scanner might be incorporated into other surveillance technologies and scams, things get really dark.

It’s not too hard to picture any of the following happening soon:

Long-range iris ID + surveillance cams = zero privacy

In many places there are already thousands of cameras watching your every move, everywhere you go. Especially in countries like the UK, where there are over 500,000 cameras in London alone. Once high-res surveillance cameras start to incorporate iris detection, you won’t be able to go anywhere without being tracked and identified by a computer.

Criminals cloning your iris to frame you and escape detection

A major problem with biometrics like iris is that they can’t ever be changed. Once somebody has a clone of your iris or your fingerprint, they can impersonate you forever. We’ve already seen one hacker cloning a politician’s thumbprint with just a camera. It won’t be long until hackers can make contact lenses with cloned iris information—hey, it’s Minority Report again.

So there we have it, the long-range iris acquisition system. We’re now one step closer to living in a full-blown surveillance state. Lovely.

You’re reading #WTFWednesday, a weekly update on the crazy world of surveillance technology. Tune in next week for another unbelievable attack on your privacy – and don’t forget to share!


ExpressVPN’s #WTFWednesday brings you weird, shocking, and creepy stories about data privacy—pulled straight from the news. Think your privacy is yours? Think again. You will feel uncomfortable. You will be outraged. You will think, “WTF?!”


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