Samsung Patent application supporting Eye Scanning rumors for upcoming Galaxy smartphones.

Rumour Mill: Samsung Galaxy S5 could come with Eye Iris Scanning.

Samsung Patent application supporting Eye Scanning rumors for upcoming Galaxy smartphones.

Earlier in the quarter the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Samsung that relates to a possible future authentication system for devices like their Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets.

Our colleages of PatentBolt describe with details how Samsung`s Eye Iris scanning technology works:


Samsung's Patent Background on Authentication Technology
Iris scanning is used to collect information of characteristics of respective attributes of irises of people and use the information in authentication technology for security. The iris has unique patterns whose number is larger than that of the fingerprint. Further, iris scanning is a non-contact type of scanning and authentication, and thus people do not feel uncomfortable with the iris scanning. In addition, a person may be accurately identified even if the person wears eyeglasses or contact lenses. Moreover, iris scanning usually takes less than two seconds, and thus iris scanning is being evaluated as a biometric identification technology more advanced than a fingerprint or retina scanning technology.

Further, as a terminal, such as a portable terminal, a mobile device, a cell phone, or other electronic devices, gets rapidly sophisticated, the amount of information stored in the terminal increases, the importance of information is on the increase, and a security technology applied to the terminal is also getting sophisticated. As described above, iris scanning is a technology more advanced than a fingerprint or retina scanning technology in terms of the accuracy and speed, and scanning without contact is possible using a camera. Hence, if iris scanning is applied to the terminal, the security of the terminal may be more strengthened, and the terminal may provide various services related with authentication to user.

However, despite all such advantages, iris scanning is not being widely applied to terminals in Korea and elsewhere. This is partly because of the costs of iris scanning technology in the prior art, but is also because of the scanning rate problem. In the case of the prior art which applies iris scanning, a terminal uses a flash built in for photographing as illumination for iris scanning. In the case of some people, such as non-Asians, iris scanning is possible only using a general flash as illumination. However, in the case of other people, including Asian people, many Asians do not have sufficient melanin pigments in their eyes, and thus infrared rays need to be stably secured. As a result, an illuminator of infrared rays needs to be separately installed to increase the iris scanning rate. However, having a separate built-in infrared ray illumination for iris scanning would make it difficult for the terminal to be lighter and smaller.

Samsung's Iris Scanning Solution
Samsung's invention has been made in view of the above problems, and an object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus and method for increasing the iris scanning rate using a proximity sensor built into a terminal without installing a separate infrared ray illuminator in the terminal.

Further, another object of the present invention is to provide a terminal and method which provides an illuminator needed for iris sensing, and, at the same time, allows proximity sensing.

In accordance with an aspect of the present invention, a method of iris scanning and proximity sensing includes: an operation of receiving selection information of an operation mode; an iris sensing operation of emitting light having an amount of light of a first level, and photographing an iris using the emitted light if a selected operation mode is a iris scanning mode; a proximity sensing operation of emitting light having an amount of light of a second level, and sensing information on whether an object has approached using the emitted light if the selected operation mode is a proximity sensing mode; a control operation of recognizing the iris using the photographed iris image, and performing a function according to the sensed information on whether the object has approached, wherein the first level has a value higher than the value of the second level.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a terminal for iris scanning and proximity sensing includes: an input unit for receiving selection information of an operation mode; an iris sensing unit for emitting light having an amount of light of a first level, and photographing an iris using the emitted light if a selected operation mode is a iris scanning mode; a proximity sensing unit for emitting light having an amount of light of a second level, and sensing information on whether an object has approached using the emitted light if the selected operation mode is a proximity sensing mode; a controller for recognizing the iris using the photographed iris image, and performing a function according to the sensed information on whether the object has approached, wherein the first level has a value higher than the value of the second level.

The Iris scanning system could apply to any future smartphone, tablet, computer or computing device.

Possible Iris Scanner on Future Galaxy Smartphone
Samsung's patent FIGS. 1A and 1B noted below illustrate a smartphone that will include all the standard features such as a camera, a light emitting unit, a light receiving unit and a power supply unit. The external appearance of the terminal is similar to the terminal including a proximity sensor and a camera according to the prior art, but the present invention further includes the power supply unit 70 for iris scanning. Further, in the exemplary embodiment of the present invention, it is preferred that the light emitting unit 30 is positioned between the camera 10 and the light receiving unit 50.




Iris Scanning and Proximity Sensing
Samsung's patent FIG. 2 noted below illustrates a key block diagram illustrating a configuration of the terminal for iris scanning and proximity sensing according to the exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

The terminal for iris scanning and proximity sensing according to the exemplary embodiment of the present invention may include an input unit for receiving an input of selection information of the operation mode from a user, a controller for controlling iris sensing and proximity sensing, a proximity sensing unit for sensing whether an object has approached, and an iris sensing unit for photographing an iris, and may further include a display unit for displaying feedback information and a storage unit for storing information needed for iris scanning, and data needed for iris scanning and proximity sensing.

3. Samsung patent fig. 2 - combo proximity - iris sensing unit
ude a power supply unit, a light emitting unit, a light receiving unit and the iris sensing unit. It may also include a power supply unit, a light emitting unit as well as a camera. As illustrated in FIG. 2 above, the proximity sensing unit 100 and the iris sensing unit 200 according to the exemplary embodiment of the present invention share one or more modules, such as the power supply unit and the light emitting unit, but perform different functions.

Varying Modes of Operation
According to Samsung's patent, the input unit receives selection information of the operation mode.The iris scanning mode and the proximity sensing mode may be included in the operation mode, and the proximity sensing mode may be set as a default value.

The proximity sensing mode is set as the default mode because the proximity sensing mode is used in general operations of the terminal, and the amount of light required for the proximity sensing is less than the amount of light required for iris scanning.

Input Options
The input unit 110 may be a soft button, a virtual button, and/or an icon of a touch pad or touch screen, a keyboard, a microphone, or a sensor for sensing an action or a gesture.

If selection information is inputted by a voice through a microphone or selection information is inputted by an action or a gesture through a sensor, the terminal may further include a module for analyzing the selection information inputted by a voice, an action or a gesture, and transmitting the information to the controller 130.

The module used as the input unit is not limited to the above described example, and the input of the selection information is also possible by a combination of any of the components in the exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

Combination Proximity & Iris Sensing Unit
Samsung states that the selected operation mode is an iris scanning mode, the iris sensing unit emits light having an amount of light of a first level, such as a first intensity level, and photographs the iris using the emitted light.

On the other hand, if the selection operation mode is a proximity sensing mode, the proximity sensing unit emits light having an amount of light of a second level, such as a second intensity level, and senses whether an object has approached using the emitted light.

Further, the controller 130 senses the iris using the photographed iris image, or performs a corresponding function according to whether the object has approached. At this time, the first level has a light amount value higher than the light amount value of the second level because the iris scanning requires an amount of light greater than the amount of light in the proximity sensing. The light having the amount of light of the first level emitted in the iris scanning mode and the light having the amount of light of the second level emitted in the proximity sensing mode may be emitted by one module. That is, the iris sensing unit and the proximity sensing unit may share the module for emitting light and/or may be implemented by a single component.

Samsung notes that the light emitting unit will emit light using power supplied by the power supply unit. That is, in the iris scanning mode, the light having the amount of the first level is emitted, while in the proximity sensing mode, the light having the amount of the second level is emitted. The light emitted by the light emitting unit may be infrared rays, and the light emitting unit 150 may be a light emitting diode (LED) or an organic light emitting diode (OLED).

They further note that it's possible for the proximity sensing unit and/or the controller to recognize and/or measure the distance between the terminal and the iris with a small error by allowing the emitted light to be radiated near the gazing iris, and the position of the terminal and/or the module implementing the light emitting units may be physically regulated and orientated so that the emitted light is sufficiently directed on the iris.

Lastly, the camera photographs an iris lighted up by the light emitted from the light emitting unit. The camera may transmit the photographed iris image to the controller. In case the iris scanning and proximity sensing are performed together in the iris scanning mode, the camera may automatically photograph the iris from a certain distance. In other words, the camera may be set to automatically photograph the user's iris when the difference between the distance recognized in the controller and the optimal distance for iris scanning is within a preset range of allowable deviation from the optimal distance. The optimal distance may be a predetermined distance, and the optimal distance and the preset range may be stored in the storage unit or may be selected or set by the user using the input unit.

Samsung's patent FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating a method of iris scanning and proximity sensing.

4. Samsung patent figure 7 method

Samsung's patent FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating in detail the method of iris scanning and proximity sensing in the iris scanning mode

5. Samsung patent figure 9 - flowchart 2 in Iris Scanning Mode


Samsung's patent which came to light earlier in the quarter in the US Patent and Trademark Office's database was originally filed the US in Q2 2013 and one year earlier in Korea.

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