The government has taken a major step towards the introduction of ID cards in the UK with the public trial of biometric technology and smartcards for the UK Passport Service.
Over the past two months, passport applicants visiting the Passport Service headquarters or a specially selected post office in Knightsbridge, London, were asked if they were willing take part in the trial.
Those who agreed had their iris photographed four times and the pattern stored on a smartcard.
Having completed the registration stage, the Passport Office then attempted to verify applicants using iris recognition.
The image on the smartcard was cross-referenced against the applicant's iris by taking a new scan.
The software and hardware for the system was provided by IT solutions specialist Schlumberger Sema. Approximately 500 cards were produced during the trial.
Schlumberger said the Home Office-backed trial set out to gauge public reaction to the use of biometrics - particularly iris scanners - which have always been met with privacy concerns.
James McVicar, account director at Schlumberger, said: "The technology was not the point of the trial, it was to assess reaction to the biometrics."
The technology could form the basis of either smartcard passports or benefits entitlement cards.
The trial is part of the Home Office entitlement card consultation process, which is due to end in January.
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