Future iPhones may hide things on your phone, based on your face

6 December 2013

color-iphone-5 The iPhone of the future could well unlock and hide messages based on a user's face thanks to Apple's new patent that uses facial recognition technology to control your phone or tablet.

The American Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,600,120 for "Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition," which is all a bit sci-fi.

According to the document, face detection and recognition are two different things where detection involves locating faces within an image, while recognition goes further by pairing stored faces with a particular user.

Apple's patent is made up of three separate systems: a face detection decision application; a face recognition application; and an input/output control application. All three work together so it can detect whether a user is authorised to operate the device in question.

Using your skin tone and features, it'll also crate a vector of your face and use that for security purposes. So while one bit of the programme may detect a face through a sensor, it'll then have to work out if it knows your face or not, which will then unlock the phone (or not). So, if someone steals your phone, it will ostensibly be useless as it won't be able to recognise any stranger trying to use it.

The patent also says that this technology could recognise a user's face over a period of time, 'learning' your face as it goes along. Of course, the new PS4 and Xbox One have similar things in place which use technology that is not unlike Apple's patent and Apple themselves recently purchased PrimeSense, a motion-sensing hardware and software firm behind Microsoft's first Kinect sensor.

Apple do make pretty robust programmes, so it'll be very interesting to see what they do with this. Also, it gives them the chance to take loads of people to court all the time, so it's win-win for them.



TOPICS:   Technology   Mobile   Privacy


  • Harry
    I've been using face unlock on my various Google Nexus devices for quite some time. It's a stock feature of vanilla Android. Surely this counts as "prior art"?
  • Duhh
    So does that mean my twin brother will be able to access my secret data? Hmmmm.
  • Pete
    I've also been using the build it face unlock feature in my past 2 Android phones. I imagine apple will also do a similar (read same) thing as Samsungs 'look away to pause video' thing..

What do you think?

Your comment