Mobile World Congress

LG G8 ThinQ: Unlock this phone with your veins

The LG G8 ThinQ smartphone has features such as a triple camera unit at the back, comprising a camera with a standard lens, a telephoto camera and an ultra-wide angle camera.
The LG G8 ThinQ smartphone has features such as a triple camera unit at the back, comprising a camera with a standard lens, a telephoto camera and an ultra-wide angle camera.

You cannot fault LG for lack of innovation as its latest LG G8 ThinQ smartphone, unveiled at Mobile World Congress this week, throws a bunch of interesting technologies at the wall.

With any luck, some of these new features will stick and find traction in the industry. But I am sceptical about a couple of them, namely the Air Motion gestures.

Instead of using your fingers or voice to control the G8 ThinQ, you can control it from a short distance away from the screen using hand gestures. Some of the moves include turning an imaginary dial in mid-air with your hand to control the volume of the device. Other possible commands include taking a screenshot and switching between apps.

Unless you are trying to use the phone while eating fried chicken with both hands, I do not quite see the appeal of these gestures. Moreover, they take a while to get used to, as the gestures need to be executed at the right distance away from the phone, for the G8's Z Camera to capture them.

The Z Camera, which is a time-of-flight camera based on Infineon's 3D image sensor, can accurately record depth information. This capability, together with infrared sensors, enable palm vein authentication.

Dubbed Hand ID, this authentication scheme can identity individuals by recognising the shape and thickness of the veins in their palm. LG says the chances of two persons having an identical vein structure is less than one in one billion, making it less likely to be fooled than with a fingerprint sensor or face recognition.

From what I saw, it is relatively fast, too, once you know where to place your palm over the camera. Face unlock is also supported if the palm method is not your cup of tea.

 
 
 
 

The Z Camera is also used to enable some nifty camera tricks, such as creating background blur, or bokeh, for videos and not just photos.

Besides the Z Camera, another innovation is the use of the G8's 6.1-inch Oled screen as a diaphragm, with a motor vibrating the screen to produce sound. This screen also doubles as the phone's earpiece speaker.

The rest of the G8 is more mundane. Like most smartphones this year, it will use Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 855 processor. It will have 6GB of memory and 128GB of internal storage. It has a triple camera unit at the back, comprising a camera with a standard lens, a telephoto camera and an ultra-wide angle camera.

But I am somewhat concerned about the 3,500mAh battery, which is on the smaller side. The LG V40 ThinQ did not have the best battery life and the G8 may suffer a similar fate. We will find out when it goes on sale later this year - no price or date has been announced yet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2019, with the headline 'Unlock this phone with your veins'. Print Edition | Subscribe