Dozens of police departments nationwide are gearing up to use a tech company’s already controversial iris- and facial-scanning device that slides over an iPhone and helps identify a person or track criminal suspects.

The so-called “biometric” technology, which seems to take a page from TV shows like “MI-5″ or “CSI,” could improve speed and accuracy in some routine police work in the field. However, its use has set off alarms with some who are concerned about possible civil liberties and privacy issues.

The smartphone-based scanner, named Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System, or MORIS, is made by BI2 Technologies in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and can be deployed by officers out on the beat or back at the station.

An iris scan, which detects unique patterns in a person’s eyes, can reduce to seconds the time it takes to identify a suspect in custody. This technique also is significantly more accurate than results from other fingerprinting technology long in use by police, BI2 says.

When attached to an iPhone, MORIS can photograph a person’s face and run the image through software that hunts for a match in a BI2-managed database of U.S. criminal records. Each unit costs about $3,000.

Read More at Reuters By Zach Howard, Reuters

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