Smartphone makers set sights on iris scanning tech

2015/12/14 | Source: ECNS


While the year 2015 has witnessed fingerprint recognition scanner becoming a must-have feature in top of the line handsets, iris scanning technology is expected to be the center of attraction in high-end smartphones in the next few years.

Iris recognition, an automated method of biometric identification, enables you to unlock the phone as well as secure mobile payment by scanning your eyes instead of the tip of your fingers.

The new recognition method, which analysts said is widely regarded as becoming the next security standard, has found its way to mobile devices.

South Korean tech giant Samsung is rumored to be working on its next generation of Galaxy S7 smartphones, which will come with the iris scanning technology in 2016.

Another South Korean smartphone manufacturer, LG, which hadn't originally even intended to integrate fingerprint scanner on its LG G4, is reportedly very likely to become a front-runner in smartphone technological breakthroughs. According to tech news portal's report in November, LG's next generation LG G5, which is expected to be released early 2016, could sport an iris scanner.

Smaller smartphone makers, Guangdong-based Vivo and Japan's Fujitsu, have already tried out this technology on their flagship smartphones, Vivo X5 Pro and Fujitsu ARROWS NX F-04G, respectively.

Fujitsu promoted its gizmo that can unlock a screen with a 0.6-second glance, and Vivo X5 Pro claimed it can secure almost all mobile applications. The two devices created quite a sensation among tech enthusiasts when they were launched in May, but their sales were reportedly not particularly high, as iris recognition doesn't seem to be a feature ordinary consumers are looking for in the next generation of smartphones.

"I will not change or buy a smartphone only for the sake of enjoying the new technology, which is like a supplementary feature for passwords, not a necessary one," Shang Xin, a 31-year-old Beijing resident, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

He added that it is slightly inconvenient to constantly have to lift the phone to your eyes, and the infrared light will also make the technology annoying and invasive if done regularly.

"I think fingerprint scanning technology is enough for my daily use with respect to security and speed," he said.

Fingerprint recognition, another biometric identification method, was widely integrated into high-end smartphones this year.

"Technologically speaking, iris scanning will be more secure than other identification methods," Zhu Dalin, an industry analyst with Beijing-based market consultancy Analysys International, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"But this does not mean that fingerprint scanning technology will head out of the door in favor of iris scanning, especially when current iris scanning technology is not significantly faster," said Zhu. "One of the reasons why fingerprint scanning caught on was thanks to Apple's solution - Touch ID - which slightly edged out typing in passwords in terms of speed."

Experts are concerned that the new technology may still carry some disadvantages for users who have eye-related disorders as well as those who are trying to unlock their phones without enough light present.

But consumers are likely to see the adoption of iris scanning technology in next year's smart devices as a strong selling point as the global smartphone market continues to mature.

U.S. market consultancy International Data Corp (IDC) forecast on December 3 that 2015 will be the first full year of single-digit growth of 9.8 percent year-on-year in worldwide smartphone shipments, settling at a total of 1.43 billion units. IDC also predicted that the once red-hot smartphone market in China would grow by only 1.2 percent this year, down from 19.7 percent in 2014.

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