There are a whole bunch of movies out there that don't have very good stories, plots or even characterization, but become watchable because of clever use of technology, or an interesting idea that the director put into play. Some of these are B-Movies and some of them are mainstream projects that ran off the rails (and some are kinda both, such as The Matrix). And if the smartphone industry were the movie industry (there are many parallels, think about it...) then ViewSonic's latest rumored device would probably be in the B-Movie camp. This is because the company appears to be working on a new biometrics technology that will make fingerprint scanning look like a decade-old spy movie... the new ViewSonic V55 smartphone will come with a retinal scanner. Or to be more specific, a next-generation iris recognition scanner technology, which scans the eye for unique patterns that it may use to unlock the device. Our eyes are like our fingerprints in that they have a unique signature.
This iris scanner is located at the top right of the 'phone and it's hidden from view. The user must unlock the handset by sliding the small piece in front of the scanner to the side. This will then activate a light to show that the scanner has been activated. This is arguably no different to using an unlock button on a device with facial recognition set up, but I'm not so sure of the ergonomics of having to slide a flat piece of material on the front screen at the top right. To be that sounds like it'll require two hands. The iris scanner software will be able to unlock the handset and secure information inside the device, such as locking out file access. ViewSonic are also including the ability to add an additional lens to the rear of the device. These are said to include a fish-eye, macro and wide angle and they screw into the lens assembly at the back of the handset. Some cases and accessories offer this technology but it's the first time I've seen this built into the device. That's an interesting idea, but arguably something to lose in those first few weeks!
Under the skin, the purported specifications of the V55 are upper mid-range. There's a 64-bit, quad-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM, either 16 or 32GB of internal storage and a 5.5-inch, 1080p display. That rear camera is a 13MP Sony sensor and the device will support an unknown range of 4G LTE bands. We don't yet know the size of the battery nor the materials it's made from, but it's probably plastic with a metallic band around it. The earpiece looks a little ugly, but it's large and might be BoomSoundy-loud. The interface doesn't appear to be stock Android nor do we know the version the ViewSonic will run. It has the makings of a solid device, then, with a couple of bonus features. And I have to write that it looks interesting, if a little quirky - but some of my favorite films are in this exact same sweet spot, too!
There's a teaser clip, which I've embedded below, and please let us know what you think to the idea of an iris scanner and detachable rear lenses? Does the mid-range hardware bother you? Would you be interested in the V55 if the price were right?