Unlocking early smartphones was as simple as pushing a couple of buttons, which were conveniently pointed out by the phone itself. Thankfully, as the devices became repositories for more and more personal information, security in the form of passcodes and squiggles, along with voice and fingerprint sensors have become standard. Now eye scans have been added to the list in ZTE's flagship Grand S3 smartphone.
Unveiled at Mobile World Congress, the ZTE Grand S3 makes use of Eyeprint ID technology from Missouri-based company EyeVerify. Unlike iris-scanning technology, which uses the complex patterns of a person's iris as a unique identifier (and which was mooted as a possible inclusion in the Samsung Galaxy S5 at CES 2014), Eyeprint ID relies on the pattern of blood vessels in the whites of a person's eye for identification.
The phone's front-facing camera is used to capture the user's "eyeprint", but it won't verify an approved user as fast as a fingerprint sensor. However, EyeVerify claims it is more secure than other security solutions, offering the equivalent of a complex 50-character password. Although currently only used to unlock the phone, ZTE says the Eyeprint ID tech will soon be integrated with mobile payment and other applications.
EyeVerify also says its technology won't be fooled by photos of someone's eyes, and works even if a big night and has left you a little bloodshot. This is because it only looks for strong vein patterns and descriptors, largely ignoring small capillaries or more pronounced veins.
Aside from the eye-scanning tech, the Grand S3 doesn't really have anything else to make it stand out from the crowd. It is powered by a quad-core CPU running at 2.5 GHz and packs 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of built in memory, with support for microSD cards up to 64 GB. Running Android 4.4, the device has a 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 display, with a 16-MP shooter on the rear and the 8-MP camera on the front for scanning those peepers.
The ZTE Grand S3 is currently only available in China, where it launched in January and sells for RMB2,999 (US$480). There's no word on whether wider availability will be forthcoming.
The Eyeprint ID technology is explained in the video below.