Imagine in the coming 5 or 10 years when virtual reality has gone mainstream and got iris recognition technology integrated. People can make online payment by authorizing their irises or access their PCs with a blink of an eye while wearing AR glasses or VR headsets. The solution is not only interesting and supportive but also highly secured for activities such as finance, banking and commerce which require identity authorization.
In 2016, the virtual reality market was worth around $1.9 billion, and that’s expected to reach $22.4 billion by 2020. The combined AR and VR market will be worth $121 billion by 2021, according to Digi-Capital. In that same year, IDC estimates more than 99 million AR and VR headsets will be shipped, up from just 10 million last year, 2016. Many tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Intel have jumped into this market in terms of key players and investors. Technologies that are being used to support for the VR/AR are many and among them is biometrics.
Biometrics is unique and measurable human characteristics. It can be divided into physiological (fingerprint, palm veins, face recognition, hand geometry, iris recognition) and behavioral (hand gesture, voice, typing rhythm) characteristics. Considering physiological biometrics, iris recognition seems to be more suitable for AR/VR than other modalities because the device mostly covers the eye part. Iris OEM module can be integrated into the device with NIR LED to capture the user’s iris and do iris-tracking at the same time. However, the current iris technology is still affected by direct light which caused reflection and iris pattern loss. Not to mention that the user’s eyes will look around and not straight at the glasses so the technology should be able to detect iris with high level of side-gazing and pupil dilation. With the capability to tackle those issues, iris recognition can be a perfect solution for identity management on AR and VR devices.
For example, there is a VR device for 3~4 people to use in a household. Each individual will have their favorite games, personal applications and account. In this case, iris identification will help the headset recognize each one and adjust previous settings. In case of access control or device log-on, glasses will send keys to doors, cars, PCs, etc. via Bluetooth. Physical keys and passwords will be replaced with iris and the VR technology in a faster and more secure way. In addition, it can also be used for in-app or mobile payments. Recently, VR headset has already connect with the smartphone to start or receive a phone call so it’s likely that VR applications will make use of iris scanning as a means of user authentication for payments or otherwise. Another advantage of this solution is that user only has to authenticate their irises once at the beginning and it will be valid for later applications until they take the glasses off.
Iris recognition is slowly making its way to consumer electronics and manufacturers are actively touting iris scanners as a security mechanism for identity management and mobile payments. Market research firm Tractica said in its report that the recent technology advances that have brought infrared (IR) cameras and light sources to smartphones and tablets have opened up a new world of use cases for iris recognition in consumer applications. Tractica forecasts that, driven largely by the growth of consumer use cases, the iris recognition market will expand from $676.6 million in 2016 to $4.1 billion by 2025. Together with the growth of AR and VR market, iris embedded AR/VR device is a possible future that we can look forward to.