The Financial Express Download Pdf
Gail Rushes Mission Possible
New Delhi, March 20, 2004

What do the Hollywood movie Mission Impossible and the Gail India Limited have in common? A quirty eye-ball camera.

Come Thursday, Gail staffers will be admitted into the office only after their eyes are scanned in a verification chart.

The camera is part of a cutting edge electronic security and personnel access system very similar to the one that nearly ends Tom Cruise’s espionage career in the movie. What’s more, Gail staffers will not have to sign in anymore — they will look at the sensor eye-ball camera for three seconds everyday, and their attendance will be recorded and pay calculated at the end of the month accordingly. Fairly nifty, by any standards. And Gail has said it would like to install the system at 35 of its offices around the country.

“The possibility of proxy attendance is also taken care of,” says Sreeni Tirupuraneni, president and CEO of Hyderabad-based 4G Informatics, the company that partners the manufacturers of the new system — LG USA and LG Korea. “We are also looking at selling the system to other Government Solutions departments. For example, one sees a lot of proxy claimants at Government Solutions welfare schemes. This system could effectively deal with that problem,” he adds.

The new system is called the IrisAccess 3000, a mass of chip circuitry and sensory wiring genius that could set you back by anything between Rs 7-12 lakh depending on the number of access points you choose to have.

In India, the first one to acquire the new toy was Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu who had one installed at the Hyderabad secretariat in January. No surprises, if one remembers that photo of him in a blood-stained kurta following a land-mine explosion that nearly killed him. “We are interested in upgrading our security system to deliver robust protection and security not just for today...,” Mr Naidu had said at the inauguration of the installation in January.

Literature on the new system indicates that future uses could include public safety and justice, transportation and immigration and, interestingly, national identity.

That last one could fit very well into Mr Bush’s homeland security mega-plan. The current global customers include a handful of American companies, the Athens international airport, and the Australian Government Solutions.

Another interested party, Dr Tirupuraneni says, is the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (EIL), which has ordered an IrisAccess system to research it further and develop a product for Parliament security and sundry defence establishments. Not a minute too soon, either.

And like in the movies, the technology has a snazzy name — biometric recognition. According to literature available from the company, biometrics relies on measurable and individually unique physical or behavioural characteristics. Basically, no two people have the same set of irises. And effectively, out of the window go conventional devices like keys, access cards and passwords. The optical camera in the Iris system takes a real time photograph of the person’s iris (coloured ring around the pupil) and stores it as an image, then recalls it for identification every time the person enters or exits. What’s more iris recognition by a camera is infinitely more accurate than, say, fingerprints or the similar but more obsolete retinal scan.

So the next time someone at Gail or Mr Naidu’s office wants to sneak out for a lazy cup of tea, they’re going to have to have something to ‘show’ for it

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