A piece on ZDNet‘s Korean site reports that Samsung has developed an iris-recognition system to unlock smartphones, and that the technology is likely to be seen in handsets launched next year.

Iris-recognition is generally considered to be the gold standard for biometric identification, allowing extremely fast matches with a very low risk of false matching. It is commonly used for border controls … 


As an example of the speed of iris-recognition, Britain’s Heathrow airport used to have a special immigration lane for frequent travellers where no passport was required. You simply walked into a booth, looked into a viewfinder and within 2-3 seconds, it would open the barriers to let you through. In that 2-3 seconds, it had to search through every iris pattern in the database, which must have numbered at the very least tens of thousands of people.

Matching a single iris is effectively instantaneous, though airport systems generally require the eye to be at a very specific distance from the reader, so it’ll be interesting to see how Samsung addresses this.

The company’s move into iris-recognition is likely a form of one-upmanship over the Touch ID fingerprint-recognition on Apple’s iPhone 5s.

The system will reportedly be used in Samsung phones with QHD displays – a resolution of 2560×1440 which falls between 1080p HD and 4K. Given the chatter about 4K smartphones on the way, we’re less impressed by that but definitely looking forward to testing the iris recognition.

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