Iris Passport

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July 6, 2015

A first in the world iris scanning smartphone technology in Japan has ties to MSU Engineering

A first in the world iris-scanning smartphone technology that was introduced in Japan in June has ties to the Michigan State University College of Engineering.

New iris scanning technology will unlock a smartphone via an iris scan in half a second. The mobile technology was developed by a graduate of the MSU College of Engineering. Photo copyright by Laitr Keiows and licensed by Creative Commons.

When Fujitsu’s Arrows NX F-04G smartphone hit the market last month, it became the first in the world to arrive with built-in iris-scanning technology.

The iris recognition technology for mobile, called Iris Passport, was developed by Delta ID, the startup of Salil Prabhaker.

He received a PhD in computer science and engineering in 2001 and is the former student of University Distinguished Professor Anil Jain, in the MSU Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Jain serves as an advisor for Delta ID, which is located in California. For more on Delta ID:

The smartphone’s built-in biometric system can scan an iris within a couple of seconds, and is intended to be used to authenticate the user for phone unlocking, mobile payment authorization, and other services. It adheres to FIDO specifications, and the user’s biometric data is stored on the device itself.

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The mobile device sports a number of fairly standard premium smartphone features: 3GB of RAM, an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, and a 21MP camera. The main distinguishing feature is the iris-scanning functionality, which is called Iris Passport. Once the user has completed an initial registration, the smartphone can be unlocked via iris scan in half a second. And the iris recognition can act as a password replacement on any of the device’s applications, too.

Salil Prabhaker (PhD Computer Science 2001) created the iris recognition technology, Iris Passport, in his startup, Delta ID.

The Arrows NX F-04G runs on Android Lollipop, which has itself long supported another unusual mode of biometric authentication in the form of its Face Unlock feature. But Arrows’ iris-scanning capability is far more robust, attaining a security level appropriate for mPayment authentication – which could prove to be a major selling point as numerous mobile payment platforms enter the mainstream this year, including Google’s Android Pay. Whatever function it ends up performing in that domain, the embedded iris scanner represents a major step forward in mobile biometric authentication, taking users beyond the fingerprint recognition systems that are now more or less standard on premium devices.

The Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G is available through NTT DoCoMo in Japan for about $750 retail. There are no announced plans to bring the device to the United States.