By Alexandra Burlacu | Sep 16, 2013 11:10 AM EDT
Apple's new iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner called Touch ID may have made some feel more secure, while others worry about getting their fingers chopped off.
The fingerprint scanner on the new iPhone 5S hogged the spotlight recently and all sorts of questions started to arise. First there were concerns that users would easily give up their fingerprints for Apple to do as it pleased with the data, something Apple insisted was not the case.
Then, an adorable image of a kid using her father's finger to unlock his iPhone while he was asleep apparently raised a whole new level of concerns. People went far past the possibility of using someone's hand while they were sleeping and went all the way to chopping the iPhone owner's finger altogether. It's hard to believe someone would go through all that trouble of cutting one's finger off just for a smartphone, but I guess you never know.
To put such worries to rest, NO, a severed finger would not be able to unlock the latest iPhone 5S via Touch ID. Biometric security experts felt it was time to step up and share their expertise, and the overall verdict is that iPhone 5S owners don't have to worry about losing any of their fingers.
The new iPhone's Touch ID fingerprint scanner uses radio frequency to detect the sub-epidermal layers of one's skin. This is a dynamic process requiring the owner of the finger to be not only alive, but very much attached to the finger in use.
"The [RF capacitive sensor] technology is built in a way that the [fingerprint] image has to be taken from a live finger," assures Sebastien Taveau, according to Mashable. Taveau is the CEO of Validity Sensors, A California company that provides fingerprint sensor solutions. "No one in biometrics wants to talk about cut fingers and dead bodies, but at the end of the day we are still asked to remove the fears of consumers and make sure that they understand that [a severed finger] will not work."
"[Apple used a technology that's been around for a long time, but the big difference is that they made it cool," adds Taveau. "It's been around on laptops, but besides locking and unlocking your laptop there was not much of a use case for it."
"Now with Apple, by actually building an experience, they are educating the market, which is very important... Expect to see the Android world shipping [such] devices in the next couple of months."
Even with strong reassurance from biometric experts, there will still be plenty of worrisome consumers that will most likely find some other way in which this technology could endanger users.
For instance, one could not unlock your iPhone with your severed finger, but would a gun to the head do? What if someone threatens you into willingly placing your finger, very much alive and attached to your body, on the Touch ID and unlock it? Supposedly some sick someone would be desperate enough to pull such a scheme, but why think of such worst-case scenarios? If you're an Apple fan and the new iPhone 5S appeals to you, it may be a far better idea to just enjoy it rather than making up gruesome scenarios of what could or could not happen. At least now you can cross severed fingers off your list.
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