Iris Scanning for the iPhone 8 Gets a Big Maybe

2 minute read
| Analysis

Apple’s iPhone 8 will include an iris scanner and wireless charging, making it even more Star Trek-like than any iPhone that’s come before. Both are likely, although it’s possible sources are misreading Apple’s iris scanner plans.

Iris scanning identifies the unique patterns in a person’s iris, much in the same way fingerprint scanning identifies the unique patterns in our finger tips. Those patterns can be used as a form of personal verification without requiring passwords.

Apple may use iris scanning in the iPhone 8

Iris scanning iPhones? Maybe

For Apple, iris scanning will serve the same purpose as Touch ID for authenticating to unlock your iPhone, and possibly for Apple Pay, too.

Industry sources spilled the information about the iPhone 8’s new features, according to Digitimes. This follows reports that Apple plans to use OLED screens in the new model, too.

Citing supply chain sources is a sometimes dubious venture because piecing together individual parts orders rarely paints a full picture of Apple’s plans.

It’s possible the Digitimes sources are on the right track, but focusing in the wrong place. Apple may be looking to facial recognition instead.

The Case for Facial Recognition Over Iris Scanning

Apple has been buying into facial recognition for years. The company bought Polar Rose in 2010, Faceshift in 2015, and Emotient in 2016. Apple also filed a patent application in 2011 for a facial recognition system that works as a security feature to unlock an encrypted device.

The companies Apple snapped up could make technology for real-time facial mapping in games or virtual reality environments, but they could also create a system where our face is our password.

Apple also has several years of experience with facial recognition already thanks to Photos on the Mac as well as the iPhone and iPad. It’s not much of a logical leap to go from Photo’s people matching feature to recognizing our faces to unlock our iPhones.

Apple does, however, have a trademark for “Iris Engine,” which implies scanning our eye instead of our face. That said, “Iris Engine” sounds a lot sexier than “Face Engine,” regardless of what Apple’s actually scanning—and holding the Iris Engine trademark doesn’t necessarily mean the company is committed to eye scanning.

Considering Apple’s multi-year investment in facial recognition it seems plausible that’s the route the company is taking.

iPhone Wireless Charging

The other part of the Digitimes report says the iPhone 8 will support some form of wireless charging. This isn’t the first time wireless charging has come up as a reported feature for the next iPhone.

Apple Watch-style induction charging seems plausible for the next iPhone since it’s already proven effective for the smartwatch. It’s more efficient that contactless charging, and doesn’t require the stringent government approval process that goes along with true contactless charging like WattUp from Energous.

Since Apple has plenty of induction charging field testing under its belt thanks to Apple Watch users, that’s most likely the route the company will take.

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