Your eyes could open your bank account or play “World of Warcraft”

In the future, security will be in the eye of the beholder. Texas State University computer scientists are developing a program that will scan users’ eyes to unlock their digital accounts.

“Biometrics is a science that studies or identifies a person based on what a person is, not what a person remembers such as a password,” says Oleg Komogortsev, a computer scientist at Texas State University.

Ocular biometerics is more than scanning a person’s iris. Komogortsev’s software also tracks eye movement, analyzing where the user is looking. That data could be used to interpret how a person is viewing information, or how they’re feeling, ie. if they are fatigued or stressed.

Komogortsev was developing a biomathematical model of the human eye as a graduate student when he came up with the idea for the technology. An avid gamer, he wanted access to a pre-release of Blizzard Entertainment’s popular “World of Warcraft”. But the early release of the game cost $17,000. So he wrote to Blizzard Entertainment and proposed a method which allowed disabled users to control their characters with their eyes, not their hands.

The potential applications took off from there. Komogortsev and his team believe the technology would be usable with just a software upgrade. Not only could it be used for security and gaming, but it could be useful in diagnosing a concussion from a football player’s helmet, for example.

Miles O’Brien has more on this eye-opening technology for the National Science Foundation series “Science Nation.”

*For the record, the National Science Foundation is also an underwriter of the NewsHour.