Well ahead of the rumor-hype surrounding Samsung's Galaxy S5 possibly debuting with an Iris Scanner emanating from CES in January from Forbes, The Verge and countless others, we reported on the first rumor back in October. To us, the rumors of Samsung having a retina scanner ready for their new Galaxy S5 in Q1 2014 sounded like a tailor-made rumor to make Samsung sound like an innovator. It was likely one created to generate false buzz in the hopes of making the market forget Samsung's true failure of not delivering a fingerprint scanner solution back in September. Today, the Korean Press is now downplaying the rumor of a retina scanner for Samsung's next Galaxy phones.
Today's Korean report stated that "It is forecast that it would take one or two more years for customers to be able to see a smartphone sporting one front-facing camera that enables users to both scan their iris and take selfies."
An industry insider noted in the Korean report that "In order to enable iris recognition on a smartphone, an extra camera designed specifically for the identification technology should be installed, which will make the smartphone bigger since there will be three camera modules. And since retina recognition requires a long range camera, the smartphone, if fitted with the camera, needs a completely different design from previous models."
The insider further noted that "Among the different types of biometric sensors that Samsung is testing for its Galaxy S5, the tech giant will go for fingerprint authentication rather than unintuitive user experience of retina recognition." The insider added "Who would want to put their handset up close to their eyes for authentication in places like movie theaters and bed, or even while driving?"
IriTech Inc. and Sambon Precision and Electronics Co., biometrics firms that have often been called possible suppliers of retina recognition sensors to Samsung, also denied reports by some Korean news outlets that they are working with Samsung to supply the scanners.
While it's true that Samsung is seeking to patent an iris scanner for possible use in a future smartphone, going from patent filing to a full blown end-user product usually takes more time to come to market.
Samsung's EVP Lee Young Hee noted during the CES trade show in Vegas earlier this month that "Many people are fanatical about iris recognition technology. We are studying the possibility but can't really say whether we will have it or not on the S5." Yes, the Samsung EVP played into the hype for good sound bites while downplaying it all in one statement.
The report further noted that sources are claiming that Samsung is working on putting fingerprint sensors under the display panel so that users can scan their fingerprints on the display. Fingerprint Cards AB, a Swedish fingerprint sensor developer, previously said that it was in talks with major global smartphone makers including Korean ones, and that most of them would adopt fingerprint sensors this year. We covered this extensively back in early December in our report titled "Smartphone Players are scrambling to Adopt Fingerprint ID."
In the end, while it's not impossible for Samsung to surprise the market with an Iris Scanner feature for their upcoming Galaxy S5, we continue to believe the rumor was set into motion by Samsung at a time when Apple's iPhone 5S with Touch ID was gaining all of the positive press for being the first smartphone to successfully integrate a fingerprint ID system that was highly functional.
So will Samsung introduce an iris scanner in the next Galaxy Smartphone? I'd say, don't hold your breath. Even the Korean press knows that it's really not in the cards for the time being.
That's not to say that Apple's competitors in general aren't working around the clock to have an authentication feature as cool and convenient as Touch ID is for their smartphones this year, because they are. Google is working on a combination authentication system integrating face recognition and fingerprint scanning while Motorola is working on electronic skin tattoos in an effort to dazzle the youth market. So Samsung fighting to get some attention in the press for a whiz-bang iris scanner isn't surprising. But in the end, it's really just hype and little else.