Face the Future: Apple Patents to Facial Recognition Phone Unlocking
Enjoying the ability to unlock your iPhone with your fingerprint? If Apple’s latest patent is anything to go by, you may be able to unlock your device even if you don’t have any fingers—all you’ll need to do is smile for the camera.
A post on CNET today points the way to a recent Apple patent filing for “Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition.” Essentially, your Apple devices will scan your face to grant you access. When you get a phone call or an email, your phone has to look at you and recognize your mug before it’ll give you control. It’s a pretty neat sounding concept, if a little fuzzy in terms of how—or if—it’ll actually work.
For instance, how well could a system like this work in a poorly lit environment? How well would it account for new hairstyles, or glasses? Could it be hacked by simply holding up a picture of a person? We already heard that folks were able to fool the fingerprint scanner back in September. Even though the method was somewhat complicated, involving making latex reproductions of people’s fingerprints, the fact that a feature as unique as a fingerprint could be spoofed in order to grant access doesn’t leave me much hope for people’s much more generic faces. I mean—what about twins?
And here’s a creepy scenario: what if something horrible happens to your face, and you need to call for an ambulance? I suppose you might be able to enter a passcode as an alternative means of unlocking, but even still, this was the first thing I thought of. Though, maybe that says more about my disturbed state of mind than anything else.
This patent filing does, however, seem to point to another possible use for the recent acquisition of 3D scanning firm PrimeSense. While one writer said that the purchase was for the reinvigoration of Apple’s maps technology, I could easily see PrimeSense being involved in a facial recognition protocol for devices. After all, the company’s tech was used in the original Kinect, and as flawed as it was, the device had the capability to scan for depth and personal features. In fact, the original Kinect also used facial scanning to recognize registered users for the Xbox 360. It seems awfully coincidental that PrimeSense would become a part of Apple shortly before news of this patent filing comes out.
What do you think? Would you want to unlock your phone with your face? Or are you content to just use a password?
Sign in or become a BestTechie member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.