Retina scanner for Samsung Galaxy Note 4?

A Tweet from an official Samsung Galaxy Note 4 account has dropped a very unsubtle hint that its upcoming Galaxy Note 4 handheld may be the first device from the company to feature a retina scanner – offering a significantly higher level of password security than the fingerprint scanners on Samsung’s current flagships, such as the Galaxy S5, and on Apple’s rival iPhone 5S.

A Tweet from Samsung’s official Exynos account (the high-end processor expected to appear in the upcoming Galaxy Note 4 phablet) said, “Security can be improved using features unique to us. That’s what we envision. What would you use?” The Tweet was accompanied by an image of an eye on the screen of a large smartphone/tablet.

Trusted Reviews notes that the Tweet also includes the words “Unlock the Future” and comments “if [this] isn’t an allusion to retina device unlocking we’ll eat our hats.”

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – due in weeks?

Samsung executives have said that retina scans would be used in upcoming, high-end smartphones. International Business Times notes that the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – a high-end, large-screen gadget aimed at workers on the move – is expected to launch at an event at Berlin’s IFA conference in early September.

Samsung used the conference to launch the predecessors to its Galaxy Note 4 handset, alongside paired devices such as the Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

Samsung executives have previously said in interview that the company is investigating new biometric technologies for use in high-end smartphones – including retina scans, which offer a higher level of security than current fingerprint scanners. Fingerprint scanners (used in current smartphones such as the Galaxy S5) have a high level of false positives, and are also possible to fool with fake fingerprints.

Galaxy Note 4 – security pioneer?

“We’re looking at various types of biometrics and one of things that everybody is looking at is iris detection,” Rhee said. He said that the technology would appear in high-end smartphones first – just as fingerprint scans appeared in Apple’s iPhone 5S and Samsung’s Galaxy S5. Samsung is currently riding the current wave of enthusiasm for biometrics.

“We, as a market leader, are following the market trend,” he said.

The Register points out that iris scanners offer a higher level of security than fingerprint scans – both the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5S were ‘hacked’ within days of launch. “The trouble is, they’re not terribly secure – at least, not by the standards of government work. Hackers demonstrated a way to fool the Galaxy S5’s fingerprint scanner using a fake fingerprint made of wood glue four days after the phone launched,” the site commented.

Iris scans are used in high-security government institutions as they generally work faster than fingerprint scans, and offer higher accuracy by scanning for more data points.

At CES this year, a sensor designed for use in smartphones, Myris, boasted that it could best the levels of security offered by fingerprint scans, analyzing frames of video for unique identifiers at a speed comparable to “looking in a mirror”. The device required a mouse-sized dongle to operate – but offered, its makers claimed a “false positive” rate of 2.25 trillion, equivalent to the population of 315 Earths.

Anthony Antolino of Myris said, “Iris, as a human part of the body, is second only to DNA in terms of its ability to authenticate someone with certainty. No two people on the planet have the same iris texture. Not even identical twins.”

Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security

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