ID trials reveal scan problems

25 May, 2005, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK

Trials of ID cards have revealed problems with the scanning systems central to the project, it has emerged.

"Biometrics" such as fingerprints, iris images or face scans will be used for the cards but the trials found that not all people could use all the systems.

It was harder to scan the irises of black people and over-59s.

And some fingerprint scanners did not work with large fingers. Ministers say they were only "teething" problems and the technology is on track.

Immature?

Some experts argue the technology may never be good enough.

Professor Angela Sasse, a biometrics expert who has advised MPs on the home affairs select committee, said biometric technologies were "a lot less mature" than manufacturers made out.

"To be honest, I think it is a possibility that eventually we will conclude it isn't good enough or that the current systems we're using aren't good enough for a large scale public domain application such as an ID card," she said.

The trials involved 10,000 volunteers, although the detailed research centred on 2,000 "quota" people chosen to match the general population and 750 disabled people.

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