RIM’s NFC smartphones to get new iris biometric security feature

Just a few days before its fourth-quarter results are due, Research In Motion Inc. has unveiled a new eye-scanning biometric security feature today for BlackBerry smartphones that are already equipped with near field communications (NFC) capability.

RIM’s BlackBerry 7 smartphones are the first with NFC to feature biometrics security.

The feature means users can store their eye’s iris imprint in theirNFC-enabled BlackBerry 7 smartphones, thenhold the phone up to asecurity system employing the corresponding iris authentication systemto gain physical entry to a building or room. (The feature only workswith security doors that use HID Global’s iClass authenticationreaders.) So users would hold their phones up to the readers instead oflooking into a biometric security camera (or instead of holding up asecurityaccess card containing iris imprint data on it) to gain access to abuilding or room.

It’s the first NFC-enabled smartphone with an iris biometrics featurefully integrated into it, said Jeremy Hyatt, chief spokesperson for HIDGlobal, which partnered with RIM on the new feature.

“For the first time, a smartphone can be used – as opposed to a plasticcard – as a part of the biometric verification process. This is thefirst implementation I have heard of using an NFC-enabled smartphonewith a biometric device,” Hyatt told ITBusiness.ca.

The third company partnering with RIM and HID on the add-on is Iris IDSystems Inc., formerly the iris technology division of LG Electronics.RIM expects the technology to be available later this year (although nodate or month is specified) on its BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 series,aswell as its BlackBerry Curve 9350/9360smartphones. The new feature will be demonstrated at the ISC WestConference in Las Vegas later this week.

Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM is set to release its Q4 earnings on Thursdayafter stock markets close. The consensus among Wall Street analysts isthat RIM will likely report sharp declines in smartphone shipments andsubscriber growth, according to today’s FinancialPost.

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