since the TSA has assumed responsibility for all security aspects of transportation, and the agency was not fully convinced iris recognition is a viable option for airport security. Officials of Charlotte/Douglas and EyeTicket visited the TSA in spring 2002 to lay out their case supporting the use of the technology and sought permission to install the iris-scan technology in the airport. The agency eventually granted that permission, and with full support from the TSA, EyeTicket installed the system at four checkpoints.

Orr said when there's a need to positively identify a person -- a basic tenet of security -- there's an opportunity to use new technologies, and despite the cost to the airport, he said he considers it more of an investment than an expense.

"It's an investment in helping TSA to move more quickly along the technology trail," he said. "The payback for us will be better and quicker service for our customers."

Catherine Pickavet is a freelance writer living and studying in New York City.