Nowadays we take our mobile phones everywhere. Probably even when you are at home you have your phone close by. There is an important reason for this, imbedded in these pieces of hardware are our lives. All these ones and zeros, invisible to the naked eye are transformed into WhatsApp messages, pictures, emails, you name it. All these pieces of data combined sketch a pretty good picture of what kind of person we are in our personal lives. This is valuable information to you, but also to someone who has less positive purposes. No wonder that the talk of the town for over several years now is encryption, data protection, hacking and related topics. We want our data to be as safe as possible, but still more than a few only have a 4 digit passcode as their barrier between the ‘bad guys’ and their private information. Luckily there is a better alternative!
In 2011 the first fingerprint scanner was introduced on the Motorola Atrix, a phone with technology well beyond its years, but didn’t catch on until a couple years later. In 2013 the fingerprint scanner was introduced on the iPhone 5S, and after this introduction it became almost mandatory for every smartphone company to implement one in their flagship devices. We call this kind of verification method ‘biometric identification’, biometric meaning; measurable characteristics of the human body. This characteristic could be a fingerprint, the iris of an eye or facial features, the only requirement being that it is unique to you. There are a couple immediately noticeable upsides to this technology. One, you don’t have to remember a password anymore, using a part of your body that is unique to you is enough to unlock the device. Secondly, this method is much harder to pass by when someone is trying to get into your phone. A password can be cracked by using “brute-force” a term used by hackers meaning, trying every possible combination. By hand this is impossible, but specialized programmes are available which could do this in a matter of hours. So the question rises, how can we make use of this 007-esque technology?
As mentioned before this technology has been around for a couple of years, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any progress. Fingerprint scanners are becoming smaller, faster and more accurate. With the first generations of fingerprint scanners you maybe had to try a couple of times or put your finger in a different position, but scanners from past year are almost instantaneous. One worth noticing is from the recently released Sony Xperia Z5. Without any previous knowledge one would think that this functionality isn’t included in the device, but the relatively tiny power-button on the side houses a very fast scanner. Another champ in this area is the LG Nexus 5X, especially in setting up the scanner. Normally it takes approximately 5-10 min to set up a finger print scanner, you let it read different positions, fingers, etc. but not with the X5. With 6 taps of your finger the scanner is set up, another 6 and you have both hands taken care of. This can be done in a minute! But fingerprint scanners aren’t the only option anymore, Microsoft came up with a very cool feature on their new Lumia device.
Although not many, there are several devices out there which make use of iris identification. One of the most recent releases was by Microsoft, whose Lumia series was expanded with the 950 and 950XL. Both phones have an iris scanner function included. When setting up, the infrared camera imbedded on the front next to the selfie-camera, scans your eye in two different lighting conditions. From then on this will be your way into the phone, a backup passcode is mandatory but this only works when the camera is broken or the iris functionality doesn’t work anymore. The process is very fast and shouldn’t take more than 2 seconds to register your eye. And because it is an infrared camera you can login to your phone even when you’re outside in the dead of night.
Future functionalities could be making use of facial recognition software but because of lighting issues this function isn’t about to go big anytime soon. Another feature that is probably going to make it is multiple finger identification. Multiple fingers that are registered at once which apparently is so much more secure than only a fingerprint that banks have shown interest in this technology.
What you can do when your next subscription is coming up or your phone needs replacement. Is choose an alternative which offers you the option of using biometric identification. It is easier, faster and more secure. What more do you want?
If you want to know more about one of the mobile phones I mentioned in the article: click here for the Xperia Z5, Nexus 5X and Lumia 950. If you want to know which subscription fits each phone click here.
Did you like this piece about biometric identification? If you did, please share this article with friends and family who might also be interested. I hope to see you back next week, when I talk about some of the most innovative mobile tech companies of 2015.