Biometric technology has existed in our smartphones for some time now, with fingerprint scanners finding their way into our pockets on most smartphones currently manufactured. But Samsung are looking to go one further with Iris Scanning technology on the new Galaxy S8.

Iris scanning promises to add an extra layer of security to our mobile devices, but before we start to see iris scanning on even more high-end smartphones let’s explore how it works and what advantages and disadvantages it brings.

What is iris scanning?

Whilst iris scanning might sound complex, the practice involves little more technology than a camera and some smart software behind the scenes. This offers a very easy way to transition the technology onto our phones, as most handsets already feature front facing cameras.

The kit works in a two-step method; enrolment and verification. This is identical to the way our fingerprint scanners work, only on a much more precise level.

Enrolment is the way the technology gets used to its user. To do this it requires you to look into its lens in both ordinary and infrared light to pick out details which may not be obvious to the naked eye. It then cuts out unnecessary details (like eyelashes) and recognises you eye's unique features.

Did you know?
Iris scanners record approximately five times more unique features than fingerprint scanners, making them super-secure.

Why scan my iris?

Your iris is an ideal body part to use in biometrics for several reasons. Firstly, it is fully formed by the time you turn two years old – well before we’re likely to own a phone of any kind, let alone know how to use it.

Also, it’s very rare that your iris pattern will change, even after decades of aging. The pattern is also very unlikely to be altered after laser eye surgery, so once you’ve enrolled you won’t have to link up your smartphone ever again.

In fact, the majority of people who suffer from problems with their vision will often have no issue using iris scanners, as long as they have an iris. This makes the technology widely available and long lasting, whether it’s used for access or identification purposes.

Did you know?
The idea of Iris scanning technology was conceived in the 1930s, but wasn’t developed until the 1990s

Advantages of iris scanning.

The first and most obvious advantage of iris scanning is how accurate it is. Being over ten times more effective than fingerprint technology, it makes iris scanning by far the most accurate form of security that’s widely available right now.

Reading fingerprints is much harder than reading someone’s iris. This is because our cornea acts as a protective layer to our iris, whilst our fingerprints are open to damage. Also, glasses and contact lenses don’t affect iris readings, whilst sweat and dirt can be a hurdle when scanning fingerprints.

Finally, iris scans are incredibly hard, nigh on impossible to falsify thanks to their complexity. Whilst fingerprints are secure in their own right, they are easier to hack if someone gets a copy of your prints. Your iris is much harder to copy however, so you can rest safe in the knowledge that your data is safe if you use this method with your phone.

Did you know? Only one in two million false matches are reported with iris scanning technology, compared to one in 100,000 with fingerprint scanners.

Is iris scanning the future?

Despite only being available on the Samsung Galaxy S8 right now, it seems more a matter of when rather than if iris scanning will come to take over from the humble fingerprint scanner. It might not be for a couple more years, but its increased security and notable benefits speak for itself.

Get your hands on iris scanning tech today, with the Samsung Galaxy S8.