From banking details to time-sensitive work messages, we carry our whole lives on our smartphones. This is why it can be so devastating when they’re lost or stolen. While well-chosen passwords and phones locked with unique numbers can go a long way to protect your data, the new frontier in mobile security is biometrics. This refers simply to using physical traits to identify a person, whether it’s your one-of-a-kind fingerprint or a digital photograph. Here’s a closer look at how this is integrated into the latest mobile devices.
The push for biometric security
With high-profile security breaches often in the news, tech companies are constantly on the hunt for ways to put up new walls to protect your smartphone data. Traditional four-digit passcodes are on the out, in favor of personalized biometric security features. You may already use your fingerprint to unlock your iPhone, a prime example of this technology. Apple states that there’s only a one in 50,000 chance that someone else’s finger would match your own via the Touch ID feature, making it difficult for the average thief to break in.
Yet false positives are still a potential issue, which is why the latest prototypes like Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and IPhone X go a step further with iris scans and facial recognition features. Infrared sensors were once military-grade tools, but these can now be sized down into a tiny microbolometer chip to fit within the smartphone for scanning purposes. You can see examples of infrared sensors at RS Components to get a feel for the various uses of this technology.
Iris Scanners: Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Samsung’s Note 8 is an example of a new model using this infrared sensor technology, in this case as an iris scanner. The scanner is handily located next to the phone’s camera, picking up 2D images to use as a security identification feature. There’s also facial recognition technology as well as a fingerprint scanner included to provide multiple layers of biometric security.
Another recently revealed next-generation phone is the IPhone X, which offers a new level of facial recognition. You’ll essentially be able to unlock the phone with a 3D map of your own face, which in theory can’t be replicated by anyone else – Apple claims there is only a one in a million chance of this being cracked in comparison to the one in 50,000 figure for Touch ID. To set up a personal Face ID, you allow the phone’s camera to take multiple snaps of your face using infrared light, an ambient light sensor and proximity sensors like those seen here at RS Components. In addition to providing tighter security than Touch ID, these biometrics can be used to authorize payments with Apple Pay or have a bit of fun with personal emoji faces called “Animojis”.
What comes next?
These two new products from Samsung and Apple are currently leading the way when it comes to biometrics. Samsung offers the unique iris scan feature, while Apple has taken the 2D biometrics and gone a step further by creating the 3D Face ID mapping feature. We can expect to see this type of technology rolled out by more companies globally to enhance existing biometric security features. What’s likely is that there will be multiple forms of authentication, involving the trio of facial mapping, iris scanning, and fingerprints. In just a few years, the humble passcode could be a thing of the past entirely.