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Clarkson researchers have eye out for criminals

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POTSDAM - It resembles the plot of a science fiction movie: criminals can conceal their identity by altering their eyes.

A team of Clarkson University researchers is playing a role in outsmarting those criminals by testing and identifying cutting-edge iris recognition technology.

Clarkson’s Center of Identification Technology Research (CITeR), a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, is co-hosting the Liveness Detection – Iris Competition this summer.

Clarkson, along with the University of Notre Dame and Warsaw University of Technology, have invited developers of iris recognition technology worldwide to submit their devices for the competition. The researchers will test the effectiveness of each device over the next couple of months and present their findings at the IEEE conference on biometrics this fall.

The purpose of the competition is two-fold, according to Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Stephanie Schuckers, director of CITeR at Clarkson. The competition provides manufacturers of iris recognition technology with third-party validation of their work. It also gives government agencies and private-sector companies interested in purchasing the technology comprehensive data to make informed decisions.

Schuckers is one of America’s top experts in biometric computer security. She recently testified before a U.S. House of Representatives Joint Hearing on the Current and Future Applications of Biometric Technologies.

“In this field, we are one of the very few around the world doing this kind of thing,” Schuckers said. “We can get a good sense of how effective these emerging technologies are.”

Each piece of iris-reading technology will take several hundred pictures of the researchers’ eyes. The researchers will try to trick the technology by periodically slipping on patterned contact lenses that alter the eye.

Devices that measure, monitor, and identify humans and human intent are needed for a broad range of commercial and security applications. Biometric verifiers, like a fingerprint, voice, or iris are increasingly securing more and more of the electronic world. CITeR performs research on emerging technologies, interdisciplinary training of scientists and engineers, and technology transfer to the private and government sectors through its affiliates.

“We always try to be a step ahead of the criminal,” said David Yambay, a Clarkson graduate student who is working on the project with Schuckers.

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