"We follow the scientists around and look over their shoulders."
In the movie, Tom Cruise's character walks through a mall. As he does so, devices placed discretely along the walls shine a light on his eyes.
Here is a brief clip from the film; note that John Anderton has had an operation performed that replaces his original irises.
(Time for your eye scan, Mr. Anderton)
The device probably scans the iris of the eye as a person walks by. There are two particularly important aspects of such a device.
The first is that iris scans are considered a highly accurate means of successful biometric authentication. Following the scan, a high-resolution picture of the irides of the eye is available. Pattern recognition software can match any future scan against the original with extremely high confidence in the accuracy of identification.
The second advantage of the movie's fictional system is that it works without the consent or involvement of the subject. At present, iris scans require that the subject move close to a device and hold his head still for the scan.
This technovelgy is used to implement personalized advertisements in the film.
Public Iris Scanner-related
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