Eye-catching security

Posted date: 18 January 2012

Mr :hraf05 Iris recognition is the gold standard when it comes to individual authentication.

Enterprise security is attracting corporate eyes – and quite literally too. IT and business consulting company Sierra Solutions is looking to upgrade the level of security for end-user organisations by integrating an innovative iris scanning system with popular enterprise solutions such as SAP and Oracle.

While security solutions such as fingerprint recognition and RFID (radio frequency identification) cards have been around for quite some time, iris recognition is the gold standard when it comes to individual authentication, according to Mr Ranjan Vaswani, General Manager and Founder, Sierra Solutions.

“Fingerprints change at puberty and some individuals have sweaty palms causing problems with readers,” he said. “RFID cards are worse because they give a false sense of security since cards can easily be stolen.”

Mr Vaswani noted that the reason why iris recognition had not gained traction in the past was that it was too cumbersome for practical use. “It used to take too long to scan and identify and it also forces the user to be still and look into a camera,” he said.

However, these limitations are being overcome with technology from EyeLock, a company that provides a line of identity management products. EyeLock uses a near-infrared spectrum to scan the irises of people from a distance and while they are still in motion, overcoming the difficulties previously associated with the technology and making identity authentication relatively painless and fuss-free.

With this, Sierra Solutions saw an opportunity to potentially revolutionise enterprise security. “We saw that it was possible to integrate EyeLock iris scanning technology into the popular enterprise security solutions like SAP and Oracle,” said Mr Vaswani.

In end 2010, Sierra Solutions became an authorised channel partner of EyeLock. It not only distributes iris scanning systems, but also builds software adaptors that enable companies to easily install iris scanners and quickly populate IT systems with the relevant biometric data.

To accelerate its technology development, the company sought the help of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), and managed to secure a grant from the iSTART:ACE scheme, which helps local start-ups accelerate product development and commercialisation by leveraging internationally-proven technologies. Through this initiative, IDA co-funded 50 percent of Sierra Solutions’ manpower costs.  

Sierra Solutions is currently working with a local hospital on a pilot project to enable clinicians to enter secure premises like the operating theatre without needing to use their hands. “Because no touch is involved, it prevents the spread of bacteria,” said Mr Vaswani.

“We are also working on integrating it on terminals in hospitals that access patient care information,” he added. “This ensures that the person accessing the system is actually who he says he is.”

Sierra Solutions is also looking at hooking up the scanner technology to basic systems such as time clocks in a factory setting using the more secure iris technology and doing away with punch cards and RFID.

While its current focus is largely on Singapore, Sierra expects to eventually go global and tap the lucrative United States market with the incorporation of the iris scanning technology into its solutions. “Within the next three years, our business for EyeLock and security consulting could drive 20 per cent of our annual turnover,” said Mr Vaswani.