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Samsung iris scanner revealed in patent filing

Kris Carlon
6

You may remember a month ago we shared the rumor that Samsung were looking at including an iris scanner in the upcoming Galaxy S5, which will most likely be released sometime in the first quarter of 2014. The eyeball scanner inclusion has now been confirmed by a patent filing that Samsung has submitted, and as we suspected, it is for the iris, which can be captured using the regular camera on the smartphone.

eye iris
The iris remains remarkably stable throughout one's life / © AndroidPIT

Due to limitations on the existing technology, which was too heavy, bulky and expensive for a portable device, Samsung has created a new ''Iris Scanning Function'' for capturing the iris of the user. This includes a proximity sensor and light emitting unit to provide the requisite flash needed to illuminate the iris in order for the sensor to capture and identify it. Remember the fun early days of Bluetooth headsets with people seemingly talking to themselves? Well it looks like we're in for a funny looking new phase of people sticking their phones to their face to unlock them. Not bad eyesight, just unlocking my phone.

samsung iris reader
The patent shows the standard Samsung camera alongside a light emitting unit. / © PatentBolt

You can check out my previous article and the comments for more information on how iris scanning works and the difference between iris and retinal scanning, but suffice to say, iris scanning is quicker, easier, cheaper and more convenient for a mobile lifestyle, even working while wearing glasses or contacts lenses. It is also much more secure than fingerprint scanning for obvious reasons. I certainly don't recall leaving photos of my iris lying around on shiny surfaces all over the place like I do my fingerprints. And I rarely wear gloves on my eyes. Remember too, that Samsung said they were a year behind Apple in fingerprint scanning tech, maybe this is why.

S5 Eyeball Scanner
Iris scanning may no longer be the domain of spies and miltary installations. / © AndroidPIT/Tnooz

When the iris sensor will be available in a Samsung device is anyone's guess, but the Galaxy S5, rumored to be slated for the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2014, could see it included. There's still several months to go and Samsung obviously have the tech down, so it's just a case of manufacturing enough supply for what will certainly be a very high profile flagship and the last of the Galaxy S line flagships as the Galaxy F series comes in as Samsung's premium handset line.

Would you like iris scanning technology on your smartphone? How important is security to you compared to convenience?

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  • Henry B. Nov 22, 2013 Link

    How stupid will people look holding their phone up to their eyeball?! It's cool tech but it sounds like another gimmick.

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    • Bojan M. Nov 23, 2013 Link

      Gimmick it is, but you're wrong about eyeing your camera and looking funny. If the camera is good (and I'm talking about real life iris scanners used in security systems) the scanning can be performed from the distance of even couple of meters. I expect it to work like this (on a phone): you'll need to look at your front camera for a second or two without blinking or in any other way obscuring the eye, where the phone and the head can be in any position, but parallel to each other or at a slight angle, and the phone can be at arm's length or more without a problem or much closer. I'm assuming this process should take at most 2-2.5 seconds (and I'm probably exaggerating) or at least less than a second. It will look naturally and the whole process should be fluid, you just take a look at your phone, which you already do the whole day anyway, as many of us.

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        Kris Carlon 11 months ago Link

        @Bojan, what I've read so far agrees with this (in terms of time to scan being < 2 secs). I'm not sure about the distance though, considering the tech has a proximity sensor included that also relies on the intensity of the light emitted for the scan to work. I'm not sure exactly how close this needs to be, but I'm well aware you know more about this tech than me! Here's a quote from the Patent Bolt article: ''In other words, the camera may be set to automatically photograph the user's iris when the difference between the distance recognized in the controller and the optimal distance for iris scanning is within a preset range of allowable deviation from the optimal distance. The optimal distance may be a predetermined distance, and the optimal distance and the preset range may be stored in the storage unit or may be selected or set by the user using the input unit.''

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    • iKronious 10 months ago Link

      Are you sure you're not Forest Gump's younger dumber cousin? lol... I swear some of you so called tech experts have absolutely no idea of not only what you're talking about, but even less about what is considered Dumb Looking. The experience will be seamless. Even more seamless than attempting to get a fingerprint scanned using Apple's worthless SPOOF'd to Death Authentec sensors!

      If you've heard about Samsung's ISOCELL camera sensors, dual use of this superior sensor technology for iris scanning will be a piece of cake. There are videos showing iris scans from various distances. Most likely it'll be what's comfortable for you when you sample your scan in. You don't necessarily have to be exactly any distance away either.

      Gimmick? ......not any more of a gimmick than slide to unlock, pattern unlock or facial recognition and Samsung is most likely out to provide a greater choice of ahmm.... gimmicks to keep you secure. If you simply must use that lame word to describe Biometric Authentication technology, but doing so is gimmicky in itself on this security mater that really matters to some people! lol....

      They already have completed the built out of Validity's far superior fingerprint technology for use in some phone. Whether they include both in Galaxy S5 is a whole different matter. Because they only did a rudimentary demo of Validity's tech at CES last year. Validity's tech uses separate IC chip from the sensor. Thus they can make extremely small sensors making Apple's Authentec look gargantuan. The word is Samsung will include this latest sensor technology in Galaxy S5 and possibly activate this Iris Scan they're finalizing now!

      So if your security is just a gimmick to you, you need to get another job that doesn't tax brain so much! .......maybe go work at a Applewelllian Site pretend your one of their Thought Police! ;-P

      http://tech.firstpost.com/news-analysis/new-patent-confirms-fingerprint-sensor-for-next-gen-samsung-smartphones-86818.html

      btw.... one other thing for you people who are more worried about what you look like when accessing your phone than your security. ISOCELL technology is all about increasing the sensitivity to light. If these work as planned, a a scan will be as close to FLASH quick as you can get. You won't be staring at the camera for 2 or more seconds to get a scan! ^_* .....it'll be Instant!

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        Kris Carlon 10 months ago Link

        Hey @iKronius, sure, I may be Forrest's... etc, but the information presented here was based on a patent filing and research. And no-one ever said gimmicks can't be useful. Samsung is the king of gimmicks and they present all kinds of useful, important and pointless gimmicks all mixed together. Keep in mind too that a Samsung leaker recently said that Samsung might shelve the S5 iris scanner because it's unintuitive and slower than fingerprint scanning (which they are reportedly looking at via an on-screen scan rather than something like Apple's TouchID or HTC's One Mega scanner). Happy to have your commentary on the site, but it'd be nice if you went about it a little less insultingly.

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  • Sunit Karmakar Nov 22, 2013 Link

    sounds cooooool....... :*)

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