The US Patents Office has issued Apple with a patent for a system that uses facial recognition and detection on a mobile or desktop.
This system could be used in a number of ways. It would enhance security by protecting data on an iPhone that is in a locked state. It could also determine how much information is shared on the lock screen for the user. So for example if someone is receiving a call, the system will check that the user is the actual owner of the phone by checking factors such as skin tone, vectors, feature distance and size. If it recognizes that it is the owner then it will display caller ID and any other information about the caller from the contacts app. If the system decides that the person holding the phone is not an authorized user, then it will block all the data it holds within the phone.
The same kind of thing would occur for emails and messages, with content being scrubbed until a positive facial match has been obtained for the phone’s owner.
When applied to a desktop computer, the recognition works by analyzing a user’s behaviour over a period of time, while they sit in front of their Mac. It then determines when to trigger actions like screen savers or switch audio devices in preparation for Skype calls.
Whether or not this type of system will be a success, time will tell. Android tried something similar with the face unlock option but came under heavy criticism due to its fallibility.
It could be that Apple hopes to get the edge by linking this new system design with the technology that comes with PrimeSense, which Apple has just acquired.
What is clear is that Apple has security and convenience high on its list of priorities, wanting to help users access their devices’ in an innovative way but without compromising speed and security.
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