Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Iris-scanning smartphone

There are many problems with using passwords - as many of us know - and since they are required for so many devices and for access to various sites, there is a lot of information about how passwords can be made not only safer, but easier.

Recent developments that my students have shown an interest in include different kinds of biometric devices being offered on smartphones. Fingerprint scanning has been available for a while, but now a new smartphone offers iris-recognition technology.

The article I used for this topic comes from the Guardian website, and offers not only a clear explanation of the advantages of this security device, but also interesting language work.

The article: Iris-scanning smartphone puts paid to passwords in blink of an eye


The article focuses on a new smartphone made by Fujitsu and sold by the Japanese company NTT Docomo. It says the phone "uses an infrared LED and a special camera to snap a picture of the iris of a person's eye."

One of the first language features we discussed was expressions used - the first two are in the title:
  • to put paid to
  • in the blink of an eye
  • to lead the charge
  • wear and tear
There are, of course, many phrases using such devices as comparatives, superlatives, etc. to indicate the advantages of this new technology. For example:
  • Unlike fingerprints, the iris is protected and does not suffer from wear and tear,
  • ... it's shape is easier to predict and model than that of a face
  • ... it is flatter and only changes in ...
  • (passwords are) ...too easy to break by hackers and too hard for users to remember...
  • Iris-recognition systems promise to be harder to fool and easier to use ...
  • ... new scanner will be faster and more accurate than face recognition ...
  • ... the scanner's accuracy would improve and therefore speed up ...
In describing the advantages of this scanner, the linking vocabulary is very useful. Examples:
  • unlike
  • while
  • like
  • however
  • leading to
  • for instance
  • but
  • such as
  • also
  • more than
  • in the same way
  • therefore
  • not the only
There are many verb+preposition collocations that students should be made aware of:
  • made by
  • lead towards
  • look at
  • sold by
  • set after
  • suffer from
  • controlled by
  • fooled by
  • unique to
  • lead to
  • introduction into
  • use on
  • viable as
  • contact with
  • phase out by
  • work at (a distance of)
  • operate at (a distance)
  • speed up
  • file (patents) for
Finally, there are examples of both restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, which can help to illustrate the difference between the two types of relative clauses:
  • Iris-scanning technology promises to kill the password with the launch of a new smartphone that looks into users' eyes to unlock it.
  • The phone recognises the hidden unique pattern of the iris, which is set after about the age of two and is difficult to forge.
  • Multiple biometric technologies (...) are vying to replace the username and password system that has proved to be too easy to break by hackers and too hard for users to remember consistently...
  • But it was their introduction into portable devices such as smartphones and improvements in reliability and speed of recognition that made them viable as password replacement systems.
  • Fujitsu claims its new scanner will be faster and more accurate than face recognition, which is a common feature in Android devices...
After discussing this article, students talked about whether biometrics in general (both iris-scanners and fingerprint-scanners) will soon replace passwords. We next looked at an article in which four experts in the area discuss this topic. I will focus on that article in my next post.

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