Samsung has been awarded a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a biometric camera that can perform iris scanning and facial recognition functions, in addition to serving as a traditional selfie module. On top of mobile handsets, the biometric technology may also be used for televisions, notebooks or desktop computers, according to the patent, which notes that the facial and iris recognition system can also feature other optional functions such as night vision, proximity sensing, 3D time-of-flight detection, structured light for 3D sensing, and eye tracking.
The patent document reveals that the biometric camera system is intended to solve the challenges posed by various situations involving contemporary consumer electronics. The camera may work to flash near-infrared light coming from a mobile device to the user when capturing an image to address ambient light challenges. It could also include an extended depth of field (EDOF) lens to take an image at close range without delivering blurry results. Other components may include a bandpass system designed to filter out ambient light, a sensor that works to process images by converting an object's optical image into an electronic signal, and a processor meant to pick up video images of a user's iris from the sensor. Like other facial recognition systems, the biometric camera will be designed to authenticate the image of an iris against a database of recognized iris data.
While the new patent has just recently been granted by the USPTO to Samsung, it is worth noting that this is not the first time that the South Korean tech giant is making inroads into the facial recognition and iris scanning space. The company's 2018 flagship phones, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, include a biometrics feature called Intelligent Scan which allows users to unlock their mobile devices easily and quickly using their front camera and iris scanner, with a similar technology also being implemented into the company's 2017 flagships. It remains unclear when and if Samsung plans to incorporate the newly patented biometric camera into its future flagship phones since a sole existence of any given patent does not guarantee commercialization. Also, the biometric camera may not come at all to the next-generation Galaxy S10, as indicated by recent reports.