Iris scanners coming to phones

Iris scanners will become the norm in smartphones within two years, a firm demonstrating the technology announced at the Mobile World Congress.  New York based Eyelock has teamed with Qualcomm to integrate iris recognition software into smartphone processors.

"In the next two years, every smartphone in the world is going to have a biometric on it. We believe it's going to have a combination of fingerprint and iris, because they make a natural mesh, and they're useful for different things -iris for the mathematical precision, fingerprint for the usability. So I think you're going to see a preponderance of these things in every platform, from high end devices to very low, economical devices," said Jeff Carter, CTO at Eyelock.

The Eyelock technology assesses 240 characteristics of a given eye, and can function at a distance of 60 centimeters.  An infra-red sensor means it can work if the user is wearing sunglasses. It is also able to distinguish between a live eye and that printed on paper.

"There's actually some very specific scientific details around photos and even video signatures, that allow us to sense those things. So if you think about how photos are shown, they're typically printed onto paper and onto types of material, so we're able to sense those type of things. We're also able to sense things like contact lenses, that may be printed with different types of material. All those are things that computer vision and advance AI techniques allow us to monitor and take action on," said Carter.

The company says the integration of the technology within Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor means it is more resistant than current processors are to hackers, and is secure enough to be used in banking.

"If you were able to take a picture of the eye, or video of the eye, and you're able to create a connection into that processor, you could actually push that synthetic image, or that synthetic template into the processor and fool the processor into thinking it was a live eye. So, by creating that secure connection we stopped that from happening. And we also have additional counter measures that test for liveness and make sure that the person in front of the camera is actually alive," said Carter.

The company believes the technology could be used in bank transactions and purchases via smartphone.

EyeLock's with several products has EyeSwipe-Nano technology in use at the University of Houston to control access to athletic facilities.