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Samsung Wants to Use Iris Scanners in Future Devices

During a forum in Hong Kong for investors and analysts, Samsung's senior vice president Rhee In-jong said that the company is looking into using biometric sensors that will be used in its products, even in the low-end smartphone models. Rhee currently leads the development of KNOX, the company's mobile enterprise security software.

According to Rhee, Samsung is investigating different types of biometric solutions, one of which is iris detection. Currently, biometric authentication consists of a fingerprint scanner. Apple introduced such a method with the launch of its iPhone 5S in late 2013, followed by Samsung's Galaxy S5 seven months later in April 2014.

"We, as a market leader, are following the market trend," he said. Rhee added that biometric tech such as detecting the user's iris will show up in high-end phones first. However, Samsung's biometric tech will eventually trickle down to the company's low-end smartphone models.

The company's KNOX is an enterprise mobile security solution that allows personal and business content to reside on the same handset. Users merely touch an icon that switches between business and personal, no reboots needed. Rhee said that around 87 million Samsung devices have KNOX installed, but only 1.8 million are actively using the security solution, such as banks and financial institutions.

Rhee didn't say when consumers would see the iris detecting tech on high-end phones. However, currently the company is having to answer a list of security questions regarding its fingerprint scanner installed on the Galaxy S5 (PDF). Senator Al Franken provides 13 questions, ranging from how secure is the fingerprint scanner to a user's reasonable expectation of privacy in fingerprint data they provide to the scanner.

"I am concerned by reports that Samsung's fingerprint scanner may not be as secure as it may seem, and that those security gaps might create a broader security problem on the S5 smartphone. I am writing to request information on how Samsung is addressing these and other privacy questions about its fingerprint scanner," the Senator writes.

The Senator wants to know if it's possible to convert locally-stored fingerprint data from the Galaxy S5. He also wants to know if the fingerprint data can be backed up to a computer, into the cloud or Samsung's servers.