Argus Solutions Ltd Iris Recognition Technology
The Hon. HENRY TSANG: My question without notice is directed to the Treasurer, and Minister for State Development. Will the Minister inform the House about a Sydney company that is playing a leading international role against identity fraud?
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: The company that the Hon. Henry Tsang is referring to is a firm called Argus Solutions Ltd, which is based at Milsons Point in Sydney. That company has been assisted by the New South Wales Government as a member of the Australian Technology Showcase. Argus is at the leading edge of security and identity management and specialises in the use of iris recognition technology, which uses the unique characteristics of a person's eye to verify his or her identity. Members might have seen this type of technology featured in Hollywood movies, but Argus proves it is now a reality. Argus Solutions holds distribution rights from the United States of America based software company, Iridian Technologies Inc. It is one of only two companies in the world with the rights to develop applications based on this technology, the other being a United Kingdom company.
Argus conducts its business from its headquarters in Sydney and also has agents in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan. This technology is known as biometrics, which uses unique physical characteristics, for example, the contours of a face, the resonance of a voice, the texture of a fingerprint or the iris, to identify people. Iris recognition technology uses unique physiological patterns in the iris of the eye to a degree of accuracy surpassing even DNA matching. The procedure uses a video camera to capture a black and white digital image of an iris, translating it into an encrypted digital code. It works even with the use of contact lenses or glasses, and can identify a person from a database of more than 500,000 in less than a second. I am told the probability of two people having an identical iris is one in 10 to the power of 78.
Argus has successfully completed a 77-day trial of its technology at the Silverwater Correctional Complex, where it has been used to manage the identification of about 1,000 visitors each week. The iris photograph of each visitor is automatically checked against a database of 30,000 enrolled visitors in less than a second. More than 15,000 visitors were iris-scanned during the trial, and the technology was found to be 100 per cent accurate. Argus has targeted six specific market segments: police, correctional services, health, mining, government and corporate operational centres. I am advised that the Department of Corrective Services is currently establishing a project team to examine the feasibility, cost and benefit of rolling out the system across correctional facilities in New South Wales. I am proud that the Government is supporting the development of companies such as Argus Solutions in New South Wales, and I wish them success in the future.