Iris scanning may be coming to a smartphone near you as early as next month. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phone—to be released August 2—will very likely include iris recognition technology to unlock your phone. Apple may also roll out new iPhones with iris sensors in 2018, according to DigiTimes—delivering on user demand for biometric security checks over numeric passwords, but raising new practical and privacy concerns.
Iris scanning works by recognizing the flat, colored, ring-shaped membrane of the user’s eye. Like a fingerprint, each person’s iris is unique. While a retinal scan requires close proximity to an eyepiece, iris capture is more like taking a photograph.
“Smartphones have been improving camera quality, so it’s natural and easy to add the iris scan,” said Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner Research. “There is a lot of interest in iris scans and other biometrics among both consumers and employers, because the other security methods are being circumvented.”