One of the things I finally got around to whilst I was on my recent extended holiday was getting a new pair of glasses. I went for a pair of quite geeky (but that’s cool these days, honest!) black plastic ones.

At the exam, my opthamologist used something called an Panoramic200 Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope to generate a high resolution digital scan of my retinas.

Today, about a month later, I’ve finally received an email with those images attached and they’re really beautiful. Not just because they contain a view of my own eyes that I’ve never been able to see before or, indeed, because my eyes are in any way particularly lovely or different from the next person’s. But from a “isn’t biology wonderful” and “hey, check this out” perspective, I’d love the post the photos here and/or on flickr.

The question is, should I?

According to BiometricNewsPortal, retina scans have an error rate of one in 10 million in comparison to fingerprinting which can result in an error rate as bad as 1 in 500. The site also says that:

“retina biometrics systems are suited for environments requiring maximum security, such as Government, military and banking. Retina biometric systems have been in use for military applications since the early seventies…”

I don’t want to get into the debate about whether governments should issue state, or in the case of the EU, supra-state ID cards or biometric passports, etc. But I’m thinking that, as cool as those retinal images might be, it could very well be a bad idea to post them online. In fact, I should probably be emailing the optician to request that they delete the images.

Cybersoc by Robin Hamman
With over 13 years of professional experience in the digital and social media industry, and a client portfolio that includes some of the World's most recognisable brands and organisations, I've built a reputation internationally as a leading practitioner in the industry.

1 Comment:

  • By Andy Roberts / 26 Jan 2007 /

    I’d like to attempt to reassure you, I don’t know why but still. Your unique retina pattern doesn’t need to be kept a secret since retinas can’t imaginably be faked.
    In other words, you own your own eyeballs and nobody else can impersonate you without them. You don’t hand over a *picture* of your retina for identity purposes, the machine scans the real thing which is deeply attached inside your face.
    And if you are not a terrorist, then what have you got to hide ;-) ?

About Robin Hamman

I've been helping some of the World's most widely recognised brands and organisations devise and implement strategic digital and social media programmes since 1999.

I'm currently the EMEA Digital Network Lead at Fleishman Hillard. I've previously held a variety of roles including Managing Director of Dachis Group Europe, Director of Digital at Edelman, Head of Social Media at Headshift, Acting Editor of the BBC Blogs and Executive Producer at ITV.

In addition to my day job, I help my wife run an online retail business selling wool blankets - if you're feeling chilly, check out

I hold a BA in Education, MA in Sociology, MPhil in Communication Studies and a PgDip in Law. I've also been a Non-Residential Fellow at Stanford University Law School and a Visiting Fellow of Journalism at City University, London.

Why In 1995, I tried to register, for the purposes of researching "ordinary users", the username Cybersociologist on AOL. They truncated my name and I stuck with it....

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