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Portable Retinal Scanner Could Aid Transactions

DRESDEN, Germany, May 6, 2014 — A retinal scanner small enough to fit in a purse could be a precursor to smartphone technology for secure banking and payment.

The 12 × 9 × 6-cm device, developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems, incorporates the optical, but not the electronic, components of the device, including an eye-safe infrared laser and MEMS scanning mirror.

“Before the technology can conquer the market, we have to build it even more compactly,” said Fraunhofer’s Dr. Uwe Schelinski. “Our prototype is an important milestone on this path.”  


The retinal scanner has a volume of approximately 650 cm3. Courtesy of Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems.


Since the blood vessels of the retina reflect less light than the surrounding photo-receptors, they can be mapped and compared with the device owner’s retinal pattern. This pattern is unique to each human being, just like fingerprints, irises, facial features and the voice, and can be used to verify identity. However, current retinal scanners are too large and cumbersome for mobile use, researchers said.

“It’s still a long way until we can integrate the technology into a smartphone,” Schelinski said. “Another possibility would also be small accessory modules that communicate with the smartphone via Bluetooth, NFC or WLAN. Perhaps that is also the more prudent option in the first stage, since smartphones are still too unsecure.”

The project is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. Researchers will demonstrate the prototype at Optatec in Frankfurt May 20 to 22.

For more information, visit: www.fraunhofer.de


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