April 10, 2013
Cops and soldiers may soon be able to pull out their iPhones to track the eyes, facial features, voice and fingerprints of suspected criminals and combatants.
The California-based company AOptix rolled out a new hardware and app package that transforms an iPhone into a mobile biometric reader. As first reported by Danger Room in February, AOptix is the recipient of a $3 million research contract from the Pentagon for its on-the-go biometrics technology.
Opting for what it considers ease of use, the company decided to build its latest biometrics package, which it calls Stratus, atop an iPhone. A peripheral covering wraps around the phone — it’s an inch and a half thick, three inches wide and six inches tall — while the AOptix Stratus app presents a user interface familiar to any iOS user. Except you’re not going to be recording Vine videos, you’re going to be recording the most unique physical features of another human being.
“From an end-user perspective, it’s much, much smaller, lighter and easier to use an app-based capability” than the bulky biometrics tools currently in military use, Joey Pritikin, an AOptix vice president, tells Danger Room. “Anyone who’s used an iPhone before can pick this up and use it.”
The Stratus system is designed to be a “single-handed” device, Pritikin explains. Load the app and tap for iris scanning or facial recognition. The imaging display, readable from about 11 inches distant and using nothing more than the iPhone’s camera, will automatically focus and snap the shot. The phone’s ambient microphone handles voice recording, but fingerprint scanning comes from the back of the Stratus peripheral wraparound, not the iPhone’s touchscreen. Unlike a similar product from Tactivo, there’s no smartcard reader, but it scans more biometric data than someone’s fingerprint.