It takes just 0.6 seconds of looking at the smartphone display without blinking, and entering a PIN code or fingerprint are made redundant; the first smartphone that can be unlocked by its owner via iris scan has been launched in Japan. Iris scanning is a biometric process during which a camera records the human iris, illuminated by infrared light. This innovation is a tiny light-emitting diode. It was developed by a team from OSRAM Opto Semiconductors. They have been rewarded for their efforts with the research prize, Kaiser-Friedrich-Forschungspreis 2015.
The source of the light is a mere 2.4 millimeters long and is hidden inside a casing. It could change the entire mobile device industry, as this is the first-ever LED chip with both a radiant intensity of such strength, and also a wavelength that has been optimized to recognize the pattern of the IRIS.
A benchmark for the whole industry
“We are delighted that once again, one of our innovations has found its way into everyday usage, and sets a benchmark for the entire industry,” says Bodo Ischebeck, Vice President of OSRAM Opto Semiconductors. Thanks to this innovation, the safety of mobile devices could soon reach a new standard worldwide. For example, when it comes to applications that all smartphones feature nowadays, including mobile banking.
Extremely low error rates
What’s the innovation? When a user looks at their smartphone, the LED light optimally illuminates the iris. The characteristics of the iris are recorded by a camera, and analyzed with the aid of software. The error rates are extremely low, because no two people have an identical iris structure.
Iris biometrics are already quite common these days, at many airports for instance. However, it has so far not been possible to successfully achieve this process on such a small scale. The only smartphone that uses this technology is currently available in Japan (“ARROWS NX F-04G” from Fujitsu Limited), where it is sold by the Japanese telecommunications company NTT DOCOMO Inc. The OSRAM-developed infrared components could soon be in use worldwide.
Watch this Japanese video clip for an insight
“In all likelihood, other cellphone manufacturers will also use iris scanning in the future,” says Bianka Schnabel, Marketing Manager at Infrarot von OSRAM Opto Semiconductors. “However, this technology is not just limited to smartphones. Safe biometric identification also makes sense in other systems.”