Is Biometric Security Coming to Google Glass?

Wearbale TechA patent application filed in November has sparked speculation in regards to the expected 2015 Google Glass update. Mike Murphy, writing for the website Quartz, notes that the patent applied for by Google, though not mentioning the famous wearable by name, includes a diagram of a head mounted display that bears an uncanny resemblance to Glass.

The patent application in question describes head mounted technology that accepts biometrics in lieu of passwords for account login or device access control.

Google’scurrent generation flagship mobile hardware is notably lacking in the biometrics department. Where Apple has fully embraced fingerprint authentication on all current generation tablets and smartphones, and Samsung has also made notable moves in the strong authentication direction, Google’s Nexus line of devices rely either on third party biometric software or the Android OS Face Unlock feature (which explicitly warns users that it is not as strong as a PIN or pattern alternative).

The diagram referenced by Murphy unmistakably Google Glass, but as he notes himself: the patent application is unspecific when it comes to actually describing the device in question. That said, he cites the application as referencing fingerprint, eye-based, vascular or voice biometrics as potential modalities.

In any case, whether this unspecific biometric security is to be added to Android as a software update or become built into upcoming iterations of Google Glass, the decision to embrace strong authentication is becoming an increasingly important factor in the mobility wars.

Samsung and Apple aren’t the only companies whose flagship phones have embedded biometric sensors. Samsung’s competitors in the Chinese market also have implemented biometric fingerprint authentication on their smartphones. Of particular note is Huawei, whose Ascend Mate 7 not only distinguished itself as the first Android phone to feature a touch fingerprint sensor, but also uses said technology to authorize Alipay transactions.