Biometrics embedded into mobile handsets is nothing new. Apple and Samsung have been doing it for a couple of years with others following suit and even Qualcomm this week announcing an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner that doesn’t require a visible sensor but enable a fingerprint to be read through plastic or metal.
But is fingerprint becoming passé? Ever since Apple unveiled Touch ID there have been rumors of using iris biometrics with handsets. This may be coming more of a reality as Fujitsu announced development of an iris authentication system built it into a prototype smartphone. Just by looking at the smartphone’s screen, the user’s iris gets read instantaneously, enabling the smartphone to be unlocked.
Everybody has seen the YouTube videos of fingerprint scanners being fooled with fake fingerprints and hackers are continuing to find ways of scaring people away from the most common biometric modality. Iris is not spoof proof but would be more difficult to fool.
Fujitsu’s system can be unlocked simply by looking at it. In addition to unlocking smartphones, iris authentication could be used to log into web services without having to input an ID or password, enabling access.
Fujitsu has miniaturized existing iris authentication technology. The system uses infrared light to acquire the iris pattern, and for registration and verification. Iris authentication technology discerns a person’s identity using the pattern of the person’s irises, which are unique for each individual. The system uses an infrared LED light and infrared camera to acquire the image and then later match it for further verifications.
Fujitsu developed a custom, high-output infrared LED and a custom infrared camera for the system. These were combined with camera controller technology and biometric-authentication technology that Fujitsu has developed. The system uses ActiveIRIS from Delta ID as the iris recognition engine. The system can be used at a normal smartphone viewing distance.
The iris authentication system used in the prototype could be used in smartphones and tablets but could also be used in a wide range of other applications, including security solutions. Fujitsu is conducting ongoing research and development on this iris authentication technology and ways to broaden its scope, with the goal of a commercial implementation during fiscal 2015.
The video below shows a demonstration of the system (Japanese only).