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Eyelock ID unlocks PCs with a glance at CES 2014

The futuristic Eyelock ID iris-scanning system uses your eyes as strong passwords.

Eyelock ID
Eyelock ID installed on a Lenovo Thinkpad. Brian Bennett/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- All but perhaps the ultra-paranoid probably find complicated passwords to be a giant hassle. The Eyelock ID security system wants to help you push the typical security drudgery aside and rely on your eyes as keys instead.

Essentially, the Eyelock ID system consists of a high-resolution digital camera working in unison with a pair of IR emitters. Here at CES 2014, I got a chance to check out Eyelock ID in person to see for myself if punching in painful alphanumeric passwords will soon be a quaint and antiquated activity.

Eyelock, the creator of Eyelock ID, already sells its technology to government and corporate clients. This large-scale industrial hardware, however, is meant to secure employee entry points in office buildings and other big-ticket installations. Think devices mounted on doors or airport-size security scanners and you get the idea.

With Eyelock ID, though, the tech has been shrunken down and shoehorned into laptop computers, specifically a Lenovo Thinkpad T530. Users simply gaze into the camera and the laptop and Eyelock ID system scans, matches, or rejects access. The whole procedure takes about a second, sometimes faster. Frankly, I was astonished by the speed of the process compared with the clunky facial recognition solutions and fingertip readers I've used on many laptops and smartphones.

Eyelock ID
Two IR emitters and camera read your iris. Brian Bennett/CNET

And according to Eyelock, the human iris has more than 240 identification points, in each eye, that separates you from anyone else. That's way more than the 20 potential personal ID points associated with a fingerprint. All this, claims Eyelock, makes its approach to digital security much tighter than more traditional methods.

When can you expect to see Eyelock ID in a laptop computer near you? Perhaps as soon as the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015 says Eyelock, which also touts a roster of committed customers of this new solution.