iPhone 4 & 4S get biometric capabilities with accessory and app by AOptix
Coupled with an iOS application, AOptix's Stratus hardware will serve to deliver efficient fingerprint scanning, facial and iris recognition, and voice recognition as well, directly from an iPhone.
For some time now, there have been many rumors about fingerprint scanning being included with the iPhone 5S. These reports are still unproven, but they reflect a deep interest from iDevice users in biometric technology, which is further shown by the abundance of fake fingerprint scanning applications in the iOS app store.
Whether the reports are true or not, biometrics for the iPhone is now a reality, thanks to tech company AOptix’s newest innovation. AOptix, recipient of a $3 million research contract from the Pentagon, has created a sort of iPhone accessory called ‘Stratus’.
Coupled with an iOS application, Stratus will serve to deliver efficient fingerprint scanning, facial and iris recognition, and voice recognition as well. This functionality uses sensors and components that come with the peripheral, or that are present in the iPhone itself.
For example, iPhone screens are not nearly sensitive enough to distinguish between fingerprint ridges, so a fingerprint sensitive surface is included with Stratus. At the same time, AOptix concluded that the iPhone’s built in microphone was sensitive enough for accurate voice analysis, and so it is used for voice recognition.
Stratus will not be compatible with all iPhones. Rather, it was engineered with the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S in mind. According to AOptix Vice President Joey Pritikin, iOS was the platform of choice for the project, due to its security.
While Stratus is a great invention for a number of reasons, it also has at least two pitfalls. One is its large size: for an iPhone accessory, Stratus is rather hefty. Rather than standing separate from the iPhone, it wraps around the device, bulking it up at 1.5 inches thickness, 3 inches width, and 6 inches height. However, AOptix seems very enthusiastic about this size, which is still far more compact than regular biometric technologies.
Pritkin says, “From an end-user perspective, it’s much, much smaller, lighter and easier to use an app-based capability” than bulky alternatives used in the military. “Anyone who’s used an iPhone before can pick this up and use it.”
The second downfall to Stratus is its price – Aoptix has not revealed the cost of the hardware itself, but the app will be no less than $199 – “it’s not a consumer application,” admitted Amanda North, Vice President of marketing at AOptix.
Pritkin says that there is interest in the invention across agencies in the U.S government. Of course, that isn’t surprising. What remains to be seen is the impact that Stratus will have on the advancing field of mobile biometrics as a whole, and whether it will have any influence on IT in consumer or business environments.