In the not-too-distant future, you might be able to unlock your iPhone just by looking at it. An iris scanner that recognizes users' eyeballs might be a possible feature coming to Apple's smartphone in 2018, according to a report from DigiTimes.
This isn't the first time that rumors have surfaced that Apple was developing an iris scan for its popular iPhone. Back in 2014, the tech blog 9to5Mac reported that Apple was hiring specialists in the "medical sensor field" to introduce more forms of biometric authentication to its devices.
The latest DigiTimes report cites unnamed sources close to Apple, and is the first time that a projected 2018 release for an eye-scanning iPhone has been referenced.
But Apple is not alone in this quest. It looks like Samsung may beat it to the punch -- Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 might include eye-recognition technology when the new model is released as early as next month, according to the report.
How does an iris scan work? It's a form of biometric authentication that uses video-recognition to home in on one or both irises of a user's eyes. The iris's unique patterns function kind of like a fingerprint to verify the user's identity.
Iris scans are part of a growing wave of biometric authentication. A recent study from internet security firm TeleSign revealed that 69 percent of security professionals believe that the old-fashioned username-and-password system is becoming obsolete. Seventy-two percent predicted that their companies would move beyond the password completely by 2025.
What could come in the place of the password is technology like iris scans. Other companies have also been working on developing the process, including ATM-maker Diebold which has partnered with Citigroup to test out an eye-scanning ATM machine.
For Apple, beyond unlocking the phone, it's conceivable that this kind of technology could also be useful in Apple Pay or even accessing apps -- basically any time you would normally need to use a touch screen.
This kind of technology isn't foolproof, however. Low-light conditions and even variables like like eye-dilation or drinking alcohol could affect an eye scan's accuracy, according to 9to5Mac.
The tech blog does note that DigiTimes rumors are not always 100 percent accurate -- Apple could very well shift its timeline for the release and development of this kind of technology.
We'll just have to keep our eyes peeled.