How bootstrapped Biomatiques is betting big on iris recognition technology
The Surat-based company, which makes iris scanners, claims to have supplied more than 33,000 devices to the Andhra Pradesh government for use in pension and ration distribution and notched up revenues of Rs 11 crore
Tamaal Roy’s tryst with computers and software began in 1985. Although he was a textile engineer, he wanted to become a computer professional. But since there weren’t many computer courses available then, he had to learn everything himself. To his credit, Tamaal went on to build innovative software for the textile industry like Tex Cad, Jacquard Pro, Master Drape, and an embedded device, Looms Computer.
He soon ventured into forensic technology and built Pehchan Pro for face portrait building – as part of the identity kit software developed for the Central Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Police Research and Development.
Venturing into iris technology
Around 2011-12, Tamaal turned his attention to iris technology for identification purposes on realising that fingerprints could not serve as a reliable identity proof in a country like India, since they were susceptible to changes on account of hard work done by the majority using bare hands.
“Iris scanning is one of the most accurate forms of biometric identification,” says Tamaal, adding that the human eye remains the same throughout a person’s lifetime. So in 2012, he started Biomatiques Identification Solutions in Surat with the aim of developing the best, simplest and most accurate iris recognition technology.
Iris recognition is an automated method of biometric identification that uses mathematical pattern-recognition techniques on images of one or both the irises of an individual, whose complex random patterns are unique, stable, and can be seen from some distance.
Biomatiques has already developed an iris scanner, and is working on retina biometric technology, which can be applied by farmers for their cattle.
“We have designed our products after keeping in mind the Indian demography. Fingerprints of farmers and manual labourers tend to get worn out over a period of time. Thus establishing identity and accountability can become a challenge. Iris, on the other hand, remains intact throughout the life of an individual. Security solutions of the highest standards should not be a matter of luxury. Instead, it should be treated as a necessity and should be made available for everyone at an economical price,” explains Tamaal.
Currently bootstrapped, the company claims to have logged revenues of Rs 11 crore. The team is looking to tap the healthcare sector, government, BFSI, airport and border security services and manufacturing industries.
The growth of biometrics
According to the India Biometrics Market Forecast and Opportunities 2020 report, the biometrics market in India is poised to touch a CAGR of over 35 percent by 2020. Tamaal adds that growth in this market is anticipated on account of the increasing use of iris and fingerprint biometric products by the government for beneficiary authentication in the case of various welfare schemes.
Also, these products are finding increased adoption and use in corporate houses, schools, and industries for access management and identification.
“In India, we have a huge scope for iris recognition technology as it is about ’Who you are’ and not about ’What you can carry’ or ’What you can remember’, and considering the working class population of India,” says Tamaal.
While the technology is easy to use and simple, convincing people to use an iris recognition scanner was a challenge. But by offering a technology which is cost efficient, contact-less and at the same time far superior in comparison to other forms of biometrics, the mass adoption of the same in the enterprise, as well as the consumer segment, made it easy.
Currently, the application of Biomatiques is focused around government welfare schemes. “Iris recognition can be used for disbursing pensions as well as PDS supplies. It will ensure that the right person is getting the welfare benefits with this beneficiary authentication method,” says Tamaal.
Opening a new bank account, getting a new credit card or i SIM can be possible in a matter of few minutes as KYC details of every consumer can be accessed from the Aadhaar database and verified using the iris scanner.
The future of iris technology
Even ATM transactions can be made more secure using iris-enabled authentication. Along with debit card and PIN, having iris scanners at ATM machines will provide an additional layer of authentication using biometric properties.
Tamaal believes that in future the product can be used to unlock vehicles with iris recognition. “An iris scanner can be integrated in cars or bikes. Without your iris scan the vehicle will not be unlocked and thus will reduce thefts of automobiles significantly. Thus it can be combined with key to act as a double-layered security mechanism,” he says.
The team claims to have supplied more than 33,310 scanners to the government of Andhra Pradesh, where they will be used for pension and ration distribution.
The latest iris scanner can be useful in our day-to-day lives as well. It can be fixed outside our doors and used for key-less entry. It can also double up as additional security for mobiles and personal computers and even apps, emails and social networking websites.
It can be further used for forensic and criminal investigation, for security checks at airports and border security. It can also be useful at data centres, labs, hospitals, banks and utility centres.
“What is interesting is that earlier cost was an issue with this technology. However, Biomatiques has made this technology available at the cost of fingerprint technology making it affordable with better security control and identification assurance,” says Tamaal.