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Cry to beat iris scanners

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An MP who volunteered to take part in the UK ID card trials says the iris scanner used is uncomfortable and made his eyes water.

Poor chap, you're probably thinking, but not exactly a tragedy. However, this isn't just a whinge. The water in his eyes actually stopped the scanner from working, and it seems long eyelashes and hard contact lenses could fox it too.

So we're going to have a system that is derailed by a few tears and fluttering eyelashes?

Roland Sables, the man in charge of the trial, said that he was expecting a failure rate of about seven per cent. Most of these failures, he argued, would be caused by problems with camera positioning, although others "are due to eye malformations, watery eyes and long eyelashes in a small percentage [of cases]".

Sables said that so far the iris scanner had failed to match people with their details in just four per cent of cases. Scale that up to the UK population and you've got nearly 2.5m people who won't be correctly identified.

Bob Russell, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and the man with the rheumy eyes, speculated that the iris scanner could also cause problems for people who were particularly photo sensitive, or suffered from epilepsy.

John Denham, the Home Affairs Select Committee chairman, who was also visiting the pilot registration centre, said that while the overall registration process was very simple, there were some technology issues that needed to be addressed.

He pointed out that people with disabilities would have difficulty moving into the right position to be scanned. "Some of the crucial issues about the technology will be better informed at the end of the trial," he added. reg;

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