Using Windows Hello, a feature Microsoft introduced with Windows 10, you can log into your system (assuming it's compatible) with your face or your fingerprint. It's a nifty alternative to hammering out a password, but it could also be more secure. In an effort to make it so, Microsoft was recently granted a patent related to iris recognition that could be used in future Windows devices, including smartphones, tablets, 2-in-1 systems, and so forth.
Microsoft's patented technology also includes "liveness testing," which means the iris recognition process would be able to tell when there is a real eyeball staring into the camera versus a photograph of an eyeball or some other form of "spoof data."
"For example, a determination may be made as to whether a light reflection is visible in images captured by the IR sensor, whether the light reflection is aligned and/or synchronized with an eye center and/or iris center, whether a portion of the iris visible in the captured images changes from image to image, whether the images show that a pupil of the ye is reactive to the pulsed IR emissions, etc.," Microsoft states in its patent.
In other words, there would be multiple safeguards to prevent tricking the system into granting access to a nosy co-worker or anyone else who is not authorized. Part of that entails taking multiple scans of an iris and looking for tiny changes, which would not be found if holding up a photograph of an eyeball. Microsoft's iris scanner would also ping a person's eyeball with illumination and pulsed infrared emissions. A real eyeball would reflect light in a precise way.
"In at least one embodiment, an example system including iris recognition functionality may comprise at least sensing circuitry and processing circuitry. The sensing circuitry may be to generate sensor data based on sensing characteristics of at least one eye when illuminated by IR emissions," Microsoft explains. "The processing circuitry may be to cause the sensing circuitry to generate uniform infrared emissions and pulsed infrared emissions, perform iris recognition using the sensor data and perform at least one liveness test using the sensor data."
For this to work, future devices would have multiple points of illumination, including the top, middle, and bottom portions. This would give the iris scanning system more data to work with in combating against attempts to thwart Windows Hello.
Microsoft envisions this technology being used in a variety of different devices and platforms, including its Xbox game systems and HoloLens. It could also be implemented it automated teller machines.