In Brief

From vein recognition to eye implants - the future of mobile phones

Patents reveal what we have to look forward to, including ultraviolet disinfectant and squeezable handsets

Smartphones could soon boast features such as "vein recognition" or an ultraviolet light that automatically disinfects your fingers, if patents filed by the likes of Samsung, Google and Sony come to fruition.

Trading website musicMagpie reports that manufacturers are examining technology that could let you squeeze your handset or have its features directly beamed on to the surface of your eye.

In 2015, Samsung filed a patent that would allow its devices to recognise users through the unique design of the veins on the back of their hands. This could be the next step in user recognition, following the passcode and the thumbprint.

The company is also playing with the stress balls that have been a feature on executive desks for several years, offering a squeezable toy on which frazzled worker can release their tensions. Combining this principle with phone hardware, Samsung five years ago began to explore the option of allowing users to squeeze or stretch a phone to trigger different functions.

Meanwhile, although hygiene is not commonly mentioned in all the moans and groans about phones, Microsoft is concerned that the sets end up covered in bacteria and that few of us pay much attention to regularly cleaning them.

A 2011 patent from the company introduces the idea of an automatic smartphone disinfectant. However, unlike conventional disinfectants, it is not a liquid or gel; instead, an ultraviolet light bounces between a film and the touchscreen, disinfecting fingertips in the process.

Google has also explored some fascinating new options, including a patent filed in 2012 featuring tech that could allow the front-facing camera to recognise the user, letting them unlock their device with a wink or a smile.

If all that sounds a bit like a futuristic film, then you haven't seen anything yet. The internet giant wants to develop a lens to sit on the surface of a user's iris, bringing smartphone menus directly on to their eye itself. The "eye phone" punchlines almost write themselves.

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