Apple is planning on introducing iris-scanning technology to its mobile devices by 2018, a new report says.
The rumor first started on news website DigiTimes, who cited unnamed industry sources. The website’s sources allegedly reported that Apple is likely to include the technology on its mobile devices within the next few years.
And Ming-Chi Kuo, a security analyst with KGI, even predicted that an iris scanner could be included on an iPhone as early as 2017, according to the International Business Times.
Iris scanning technology could be used in place of Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner for user verification purposes — and there’s evidence to suggest that it’s a more efficient and secure way of doing so.
The technology is already having its moment in the mobile phone world, with Samsung slated to include an iris scanner on the Galaxy Note 7 — which is expected to be announced in early August.
And other phone companies, including the Chinese-based LeEco, Xiaomi and 360 Qiku, are reportedly developing their own biometric scanning technology, DigiTimes’ sources said.
This isn’t the first time that Apple has been rumored to be toying with iris scanning tech.
In 2014, Apple was allegedly investigating including the technology on its phones, and was experimenting with how the iPhone’s existing sensors — like the compass and accelerometer — could improve facial recognition, according to 9to5Mac.
And more recently, AppleInsider reportedly obtained an investor document that also seems to confirm that Apple is expected to include features such as biometric facial recognition and iris scanning as soon as 2017.
Additionally, Apple currently owns a number of patents concerning facial recognition technology, including a patent describing how 3D rendering could lead to more accurate results, AppleInsider reported.
Earlier this year, the company bought a startup called Emotient, which was developing technology that used artificial intelligence to read facial expressions. In November of Last year, it also acquired the motion capture company FaceShift, according to IBT.
But while facial and iris recognition software could be the future of phone security, there are some drawbacks to the technology.
For example, the systems have a hard time in low-lighting, and have decreased performance if a user has had eye surgery or has consumed alcohol, MacRumors reported.
On the other hand, AppleInsider notes that while DigiTimes doesn’t have a great track record in predicting the release or timing of Apple’s planned tech, its sources “do frequently identify … upcoming new features.”
Alongside advanced biometric sensors, the 2017 iPhone is also rumored to feature an AMOLED display, no home button, and a screen-integrated camera and Touch ID sensor.
So while we’ll probably end up seeing an iris scanner on an iPhone eventually, there’s no telling whether or not that could be as soon as next year.