The Defense Department has awarded a $3 million research contract to California-based AOptix to examine its “Smart Mobile Identity” biometrics identification package to create hardware peripheral and software suite that would turn a basic smartphone into a biometrics scanner – identifying and transferring data from someone’s eyes, face, thumbs and voice, Wired reports.
Currently, U.S. troops rely on a single-use device – the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection System (HIIDE) – to scan, upload and transmit data from someone’s facial, eye or thumb features to its wartime biometrics databases, Wired says. Troops who operate it have to bring it close to the faces and thumbs of the people they scan.
The hardware itself would wrap around a smartphone and enable additional sensing capabilities. The company swears that a smartphone with its sensing dongle will weigh less than a pound, and it will take only one hand to operate, according to Wired.
Smart Mobile Identity has limited ability to record biometrics at a distance, but it can current scan faces at up to two meters away, irises from one meter and voice from within a typically distance for a phone, outperforming the HIIDE camera. Thumbprints will still require a finger against the reinforced glass face of the phone, Wired reports. The system should also be able to capture an iris in bright sunlight, which is currently a challenge for HIIDE.