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NTT DoCoMo, Fujitsu launch smartphone with iris authentication feature


Japanese mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo announced it has released Arrows NX F-04G, a smartphone with iris recognition that enables users to unlock the phone or authorize transactions with just a glance, according to a report by Computer World.

In doing so, Japan has become the first country to offer iris recognition as a payment method for online shopping.

The phone itself is made by Fujitsu and is based on a prototype iris scanner that was initially demonstrated at Mobile World Congress a couple of months ago.

The initial Fujitsu prototype used a high-speed, high-accuracy iris recognition algorithm developed by California-based Delta ID, which Fujitsu said had an error rate of about one in 100,000.

The device uses authentication specifications established by the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance.

The phone has a 5.2-inch WQHD display, weighs 155 grams (5.5 ounces), has a 21.5-megapixel main camera and 2.4-megapixel secondary camera, NFC capability, a 3,120 mAh battery, and can handle 225Mbps downloads.

Users must initially register their iris pattern by looking directly at two animated circles in an app — a process that stores the iris pattern in the phone itself.

Once their iris pattern has been registered, users can unlock the phone by holding it up and looking directly at it. Users can also authorize mobile payments by looking directly at the animated circles in the app.

The Arrows NX F-04G is set to be released at the end of May in Japan for about ¥55,000 (US$460). Currently, there are no plans to sell it in other markets outside of Japan.

It is still unclear how precise the iris authorization system will be and the company has not specified if the feature would work when wearing glasses.

In a video posted by NTT DoCoMo, the actors appear to be looking directly at the phone, head on, meaning that the smartphone could require to be looked at from a specific angle in order for the feature to work properly.

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