You can unlock this smartphone with the blood vessels in your eyes

Tired of punching in numbers or swiping strange patterns to unlock your smartphone? Fingerprint and facial recognition have been tried before with varying levels of success, and now ZTE thinks it can offer something better. The company's Grand S3 smartphone in China is getting a feature called "Sky Eye," which lets you swap Android's traditional lockscreen methods with your eyeballs. It uses a biometric authentication called "Eyeprint ID" by EyeVerify and, of course, we had to check it out for ourselves.

The setup is fairly simple. A green line bounces up and down the screen, requiring that you follow it with your peepers for about eight seconds. Meanwhile, the front-facing camera records the blood vessels in the whites of your eyes and creates a secure ID. The process could be faster, but after you've done it once, you should, in theory, never have to do it again. Unless you swap your eyeballs Minority Report-style, of course. Only one Eyeprint can be registered at a time though, so Apple's Touch ID is superior in that regard.

Once the Grand S3 is locked, you'll first need to tap the power button and swipe down from the top of the screen. There's definitely a sweet spot for the eye recognition -- I found that about 15cm from the handset was ideal -- but you'll receive a prompt on screen if you need to move closer or farther away. When you're in range, the system takes about a half-second to identify your eyes' unique characteristics and give you access to the rest of Android.

We tried it a handful of times and it worked as promised on every occasion. It's not quite as fast as using Touch ID, but a huge advantage for smartphone makers is that it doesn't require extra hardware. Provided the phone has a decent front-facing camera, there's no reason why Eyeprint ID couldn't be implemented in other handsets -- Alcatel OneTouch is already working on a version for its new Idol 3 smartphone. ZTE says the security feature will be included in its future Grand smartphones and will later be expanded to mobile payments. If the entire experience can be made just a little more seamless, we wouldn't be surprised if other Android OEMs begin experimenting with this feature too.