Fingerprint Scanner On An iPhone? You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
The new iPhone 5S features a fingerprint scanner to lock and unlock the phone. However, bored and curious people everywhere are quickly discovering the scanner can recognize much more than the ends of their fingers. Just press your lips, ear, or any other body part against the screen and you can unlock your phone while creeping out your friends and coworkers. For animal lovers, any ol’ paw of your pet kitten or puppy should work, too.
Although the iPhone scanner can be used in a variety of ridiculous ways, it does say something important about the state of biometric ID technology: big things are coming. Nationwide, we’ve already seen a small number of law enforcement agencies equip their officers with handheld biometric devices. If you refuse to show a police officer your driver’s license after running a stop sign, for example, the officer can use the device to take a picture of your eye and, theoretically, quickly obtain your identity and criminal record information. In fact, AOptix, a company with offices in California and Dubai, just released a phone case which features a fingerprint scanner on the back, facial recognition capabilities, and an iris scanner. While previous biometric scanners resembled large digital cameras, forcing an officer to hold it steady with both hands, the AOptix device is simply a shell which fits around an iPhone, thus allowing officers to keep one hand on their weapon, if need be.
Experts predict that biometric information will ultimately become the standard security and identification method around the world. Already, Dubai requires iris scans of everyone who passes through customs. Similar technology was used by our military in Iraq. India has launched an ambitious project to register and assign a unique ID number to every one of its 1.2 billion citizens by 2020. Already, more than 200 million people have been registered, which involves a photograph, fingerprints, and an iris scan. Proponents argue it will make identity theft impossible. Critics argue it amounts to government overreach and an invasion of privacy. Securing our borders and resisting terrorism remain front-burner political issues in the U.S. Plus, the economic cost of identity theft is considerable. Could this mean that an iris scan will one day be just another thing we have to do to make it to our gate on time?
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