2018 iPhone to feature iris scanner
Iris scanning technology coming to iPhone starting 2018 Getty Images

Apple is reportedly working to rollout new iPhone variants that will have iris scanners in 2018. The biometric identification system uses an individual's eye for unlocking a device.

The latest disclosure comes from Digitimes, which quoted industry sources to report that smartphone vendors are behind the biometric recognition technology for their high-end models. Even Samsung is also working on its next-gen Galaxy Note device which is expected to pack iris scanner. Recently, a bunch of screenshots got leaked suggesting how to setup iris scanner on the handset.

The current iPhone and iPad lineup use fingerprint scanning technology called Touch ID that is embedded into the home button. But in 2018, the iris scanner could replace Apple's signature technology from its handsets.

Apple was said to be actively investigating iris scanning technology since 2014. The company has been looking for new ways for applying sensors such as compasses and accelerometers to improve facial recognition. The technology could improve security, photo and other facets of Apple iDevices.

Even KGI security analyst Ming-Chi Kuo earlier predicted Apple's 2017 iPhone model might incorporate biometric recognitions either facial or iris.

Apple also owns a few patents related to secure facial recognition technology that takes a two-dimensional image of an individual and render it in 3D, reports AppleInsider. In addition to that in January this year the company acquired Emotient, a start-up that uses artificial intelligence to read people's facial expression. In November last year, it bought Faceshift, another Zurich based start-up that was behind motion capture technology.

Apart from Apple and Samsung, a few China-based vendors might also be developing their own biometrics technology, said the sources. These companies are LeEco, Xiaomi and 360 Qiku. Other tech firms such as Qualcomm, Truly Opto-electronics, O-film Tech and Beijing IrisKing have also accelerated their development of iris and other biometrics scanner solutions to support the smartphone manufacturers.