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EyeLock Iris Scanners Could Make Ignition Switches Unnecessary

February 9, 2015

One car component that received a lot of attention last year was ignition switches. This part was in the headlines because of General Motors Co.’s massive recall as well as other similar callbacks that followed. In the future, it is possible that ignition switches won’t be in the spotlight as often. This is because these may not be used anymore. With the introduction of advanced technology such as EyeLock’s, ignition switches may no longer be required to start cars.

EyeLock is a New York-based company that provides identity management solutions. As its name suggests, the firm specializes in identification services that use the eye. EyeLock started manufacturing iris-scanning security devices in 2007, and these identity authentication equipment were mostly used by financial institutions and prisons. This year, the company proved that the technology can be utilized elsewhere, including cars.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the company debuted the EyeLock myris (pictured), which allows computer users to verify their identity with an iris scan so they can do away with the trouble of log-ins and passwords. The device, which plugs into any USB port, is easy to use—all one has to do is look at it, as if using a mirror. The system looks at the distinct points of each iris and creates an encrypted code for it. The device will then verify the person’s identity by matching the encrypted code with the eyes.

EyeLock showed the automotive application of such technology at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit later that month. The company used a 3D-printed vehicle to demonstrate how the technology could be used for an easier and more high-tech way to start cars. EyeLock’s iris scanner is designed to be mounted on rearview mirrors or visors. The camera embedded in the device will get an image of the eyes of the person behind the wheel and check to see if it matches the encrypted code assigned to the owner. The car can only be started if the iris scan is a match with the code.

EyeLock pointed out that its iris identification technology can do more than just prevent car theft. It also allows for more customization. If a vehicle is shared by several members of the family, eye scanners can be used to gather more information about individual drivers and in turn customize different settings.

EyeLock technology may be coming to production models sooner than later. Anthony Antolino, the company’s chief marketing officer, shared that they already are under contract with a number of vehicle manufacturers to supply the iris scanners.

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