As the world does away with physical contact in more and more transactions, the importance of biometric authentication goes growing in the same proportion, and that is where Delta ID plays a major role, Salil Prabhakar, President & CEO, Delta ID, tells Fahim Haq of Elets News Network (ENN)
Tell us about the genesis of Delta ID.
When UID/Aadhaar project started in 2009, we started working on Delta ID, which went live in 2010. At that time, most of the focus was on enrollment using biometrics like fingerprint and iris, and large devices were used for collecting the data of lots of people. On mobile network, you can authenticate anybody, anywhere. That contributed to the idea of Delta ID.
We were looking to bring biometrics to mobile devices, because we thought that smartphones have very small screens and entering passwords is very difficult. And, that is how it all began.
We formed the company in 2011 and started developing the technology for mobile devices. There were other iris companies around in the past who typically were targeting physical access control and military usages, but Delta ID from the very beginning started trying to solve the iris recognition problem on mobile devices, which had number of challenges. It took us three – four years to develop the technology.
How has been the journey since 2011 till now?
Core technology takes time to evolve. There was a lot of R&D and it took almost four years for the technology to evolve. As company grew, it was needed to hire more people. We raised funding. We were funded by Intel Capital and some other prominent investors. Our first product was launched just about a year ago and now we have tied up with Fujitsu. We provide the technology and the device manufacturer licence for our technology and introduce it in their products. Apart from Fujitsu, we have also introduced it in some other models. We have several other launches in the market now and in 2016 more products are coming.
What is your vision and mission with regard to the Indian market?
Our vision is to enable all the e-governance services in India. Besides, there are a number of enterprise applications to help people, shop- keepers and others, who are delivering services that need authentication to make sure that the services are going to the right people. And, there are also a number of applications that will evolve for self service. For example, the older people who are on pension. They can authenticate and give proof of life every year using technology in their phones or tablets. We are targeting them all.
Any particular state or central government you are currently working with?
In iris recognition, Delta ID provides software and our approach has been to use simple hardware to keep the cost low and size small. Therefore, we sell mostly the software and the hardware, like camera module or the iris camera system, which can be incorporated in the device. So, we need to work with device manufacturers. Hence, Delta doesn’t need to work directly with government agencies. We work with OEMs and provide technology to be incorporated in their handsets. There are a number of applications there, including for healthcare, finance, eGovernance, etc.
Which are the OEMs you are working with?
We are working with quite a few. We are work- ing with essentially who’s who of the OEMs. If you name 5-10 top OEMs in India, most likely we would be working with them.
Modi government’s major focus is on Aadhaar card integration with services. How can you leverage technology there?
The technology that we are providing to OEMs is Aadhaar compatible. We are participating in their certification programmes and we’ll get this technology certified, so that the handsets can actually do an Aadhaar authentication or Aadhaar eKYC and then enable any application.
What is the USP of your product?
As compared to what is present in the market, our product is the most user-friendly. It is the fastest authentication method. We provide quick authentication and so accurate…you don’t to repeat it multiple times, unlike pass- words, which you need to keep entering until it’s the correct entry. That is what makes our technology fast and user-friendly.
Delta ID is working with defence forces also for border security purpose. How do you do that?
The technology is quite similar. The underlying technologies-matching iris with very high accuracy and high speed-are the same, though applications are different. In case of Aadhaar, it is strictly a one-on-one authentication. You claim your identity by providing your UID number and then the system says a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. In case of border control and defence applications, the objective can be to match somebody against a watchlist, a wanted or negative list to prevent unwanted people from entering the country. Delta ID provides such technology to government agencies both in India and abroad.
Currently, your major focus is on device. What is your plan for the enterprise part?
Any technology that enables identity verification has diverse application. Whenever you do a money transaction, or authorising access to a protected data, our technology has a major role to play. You can imagine a device at your hotel door, and when you check in at reception, you don’t get a key – you just enroll there, go to your room, look into the device, match your iris and you enter your hotel room.
These types of specifics about our technology make it more suitable for public facing consumer applications. So, even when I say enterprise, banks may be using it or it could be in healthcare. The basic technology that enables those applications can be written by anybody, so we are not targeting any specific enterprise application.
How do you think your application can help Healthcare, Education or Banking sector?
Identity is very important in all these sectors and iris recognition is very a convenient method of ascertaining your ID. So, any money transaction from high value transaction to bank to bank trans- action, or whenever money changes hands, both side want to know who is on the other side, especially now when so many transactions happen digitally without seeing the person physically. So, this type of technology can be used for all transactions.
In Healthcare, it’s not so much of transaction, but it’s relevant to the healthcare data, which is very personal data, as you want only it to be accessible to only authorised people.