Security

This startup’s tech verifies your identity by scanning your eye with your smartphone

Above: Are you really who you say you are?

Image Credit: EyeVerify screenshot

Eye scanner identification systems are the stuff of spy movies, but EyeVerify is bringing them to the mainstream.

The startup took home the first prize at the Kauffman Foundations’s Get in the Ring startup clash yesterday, beating out hundreds of applicants for the award.

EyeVerify’s biometric software verifies your identity on your phone with your “eyeprint.” Using a smartphone camera, the technology captures images of your eye and creates a template with information about blood vessels, vein patterns, and other physical things.

EyeVerify developed a SDK that software developers integrate into their applications to enable eyeprint verification. Rather than using a password to log in to an app, you could “sign in” with EyeVerify. You would hold your phone in front of your face, glance to the left or right, and the phone will vibrate when the image capture is complete. The system will then match the scan to the template, and once it verifies you, you are logged in.

CEO Toby Rush said the goal is to “take passwords down for the count.”

“We realized there are three things people want to access on their device — and do so privately and securely,” Rush said. “Financial information, medical information, and your company’s information, so those are the markets we are going to start with.”

Humans have unique and stable patterns of blood vessels that are evident in the whites of their eyes. One eye has two eyeprints, one on each side of the iris, and basic smartphone cameras can capture these.

The concept of identifying people based on these veins was developed by Dr. Reza Derakshani in 2006 and patented in 2008. Over the past six years, the technology was developing in the university setting until Rush licensed the tech from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, to create EyeVerify. Derakshani serves as the startup’s chief science officer.

EyeVerify commissioned a report from Purdue University about eyeprint accuracy. The research showed that the rates of false acceptance and rejection are zero, and so the selling point for app developers is both convenience and security.

EyeVerify currently has four patents, six patents pending, and Rush said five to 10 in the works.

The more complicated and varied your passwords are, the more secure they are. However, most people don’t want to keep track of a large number of passwords. The average person has to remember 15 passwords, and 61% percent of people reuse passwords from site to site, which is known as “password negligence.”

As a result, sensitive information about bank accounts, health records, and enterprise data is not as protected as it could be. Too many passwords and not enough memory contributes to 39 percent of all malicious hacking attacks, which can cost large enterprises $5.5 million each.

EyeVerify thinks its solution is easier and more accurate than existing solutions out there, including those that offer digital password managers, facial recognition software, and voice recognition software.

So did the judges at Get in the Ring, which awarded EyeVerify $10,000 and a trip to the Netherlands to compete in the global competition against seven international finalists for an angel investment of up to $1 million.

This was the competition’s first year in the United States. Get in the Ring started in 2009 at the Netherland’s Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship.

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