Apple tests 3D face scanning to unlock next iPhone

“Apple Inc. is working on a feature that will let you unlock your iPhone using your face instead of a fingerprint,” Mark Gurman reports for Bloomberg. “For its redesigned iPhone, set to go on sale later this year, Apple is testing an improved security system that allows users to log in, authenticate payments, and launch secure apps by scanning their face, according to people familiar with the product. This is powered by a new 3-D sensor, added the people, who asked not to be identified discussing technology that’s still in development. The company is also testing eye scanning to augment the system, one of the people said.”

“The sensor’s speed and accuracy are focal points of the feature. It can scan a user’s face and unlock the iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds, the person said. It is designed to work even if the device is laying flat on a table, rather than just close up to the face,” Gurman reports. ” The feature is still being tested and may not appear with the new device. However, the intent is for it to replace the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, according to the person.”

“In testing, the face unlock feature takes in more data points than a fingerprint scan, making it more secure than the Touch ID system, the person said,” Gurman reports. “Apple is not the first to use different forms of biometric authentication. In its latest phones, Samsung included iris scanners that let users unlock their phones and make payments by scanning their eyes. Samsung’s feature on its Galaxy S8 smartphone launched to poor reviews as users were able to trick the sensor with printed photo copies of a person’s eyes. Apple’s sensor has 3-D depth perception, which means the system is less likely to be duped by 2-D pictures.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bring on accurate, fast and secure Face ID!

Apple’s iPhone 8 said to abandon Touch ID fingerprint reader in favor of 3D facial recognition – July 3, 2017
Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple’s iPhone 8 will offer highest screen-to-body ratio in industry; lacks Touch ID – July 3, 2017
Breaking Samsung’s iris scanner that supposedly ‘locks’ the Galaxy S8 is laughably easy – May 23, 2017
Even more problems crop up with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 – May 1, 2017
Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users suffer randomly restarting phones – April 29, 2017
Samsung under fire: Galaxy S8 owners angry over ‘red tint’ display problems – April 18, 2017
Now beleaguered Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge is reportedly catching fire – October 25, 2016
Samsung refusing to pay for property damage caused by its exploding phones – October 22, 2016
Horror stories from the flight ban of Samsung’s exploding phones – October 17, 2016
Analyst estimates 5-7 million ex-Samsung phone users to switch to Apple iPhone – October 17, 2016
U.S. air passengers who try to take Samsung’s exploding phones onto planes face fines, confiscation, criminal prosecution – October 15, 201
Samsung has no clue why their phones explode, yet they shipped replacements anyway, assuring their customers they were safe – October 14, 2016
Study: iPhone users are smarter and richer than those who settle for Android phones – January 22, 2015


    1. this article seems to attract many commentators (pundits) who don’t know what they don’t know, you portend to know more than apple about it’s secret development predicting failure before you’ve even evaluated a single tangible fact….

      1. uh, the camera would have to be running, then you’d have to put your face inline with the lens, then it would have to run the diagnostic of your face to verify the user…how is that “faster and more convenient” than placing your finger on the screen?

    1. Excellent point. Presumably, a decent 3D facial recognition system would have to take into account COLOR. But color changes with a suntan, the color temperature of the light striking the face during the recognition and one’s health. Therefore, color recognition accuracy would have to be deliberately set to be lame to some extent.

      Compare this to fingerprint recognition which has no similar variables.

  1. This is one of those discussions that flies in the face of logic. There is no way having to fire up a camera and aim it at your face to unlock your device or execute is transaction is going to be easier than tapping your finger of choice on a touch ID sensor.. Who comes up with this silliness anyway…

    1. Not to mention camera(s?) are far more of a power drain than TouchID ever will be. Combine this with Apple’s fanatical obsession with making things thinner and sacrificing battery life…

      1. With TouchID supposedly in the display now I wonder if the display + TouchID capability would actually be more of a power drain now than momentarily using the camera.

  2. I don’t see any way that Apple would still be testing a technology that is going to be built into iPhones to be launched this Autumn.

    The design for that next iPhone will have already been finalised, comprehensively tested, with massive orders placed for the components. Preliminary mass production testing would have been happening and full-scale mass production would have to be starting very soon, otherwise there’s no way that they would have anything like enough handsets to cope with the initial demand.

    It seems implausible that Apple would still be testing new hardware this close to launch. They might be still tweaking the software, but the hardware would have been tested and signed off long ago.

    1. Another excellent point. Men = facial hair/beard with a changing effect as the day wears on.

      Then there’s makeup. Change of rouge or lipstick and you can’t log in?

      Presumably such a 3D recognition system would use light reflection as well as some sense of distance from the lens. I can’t imagine such a system would sense real skin contours beneath a beard. That would require sonics, at least from my experience.

  3. from the report. . .

    The first patent describes technology that would let Apple significantly reduce the bezels on a smartphone. Specifically, Apple explores the idea of bending a display or touch sensor to extend the screen and reduce the bezels.

    The second contains explanations of how to integrate a fingerprint sensor within the display. It describes “transparent conductive finger biometric sensing pixels” that would be incorporated within the display to read a user’s fingerprint. One of the immediate benefits of such technology would be allowing an app to authenticate the user while he or she is using the app, without interrupting operation at all.

    Both patents indicate that Apple has been working on all-screen iPhones at least as far back as the iPhone 6, but probably even earlier. It’s just that the technology that would let Apple design such a phone wasn’t there, or wasn’t easy to mass-produce. In fact, most rumors say that including fingerprint-sensing tech in the display is still very difficult this year, and might delay the iPhone 8’s release. This drawing from the ‘066 patent shows the complex layers of a touchscreen display that would contain fingerprint sensing pixels:

    Different take? I hope so.

  4. In testing, the face unlock feature takes in more data points than a fingerprint scan, making it more secure than the Touch ID system

    That’s disturbing. Why not IMPROVE fingerprint scanning to provide more data points and therefore accuracy?

    I’m thoroughly skeptical of face recognition as a single method of verification. Samsung’s stupid facial recognition software has proven to be entirely worthless if one has a full facial photograph of an account’s owner.

    Making it actually 3D facial recognition would provide some help. But as with faking fingerprints, modern tech provides the means of faking people’s faces. The more photographed, the more in the public eye one is the easier to create a digital 3D model of a person’s face and create a fake version via a 3D printer. The hard part would be painting the mask with accurate color, at least at this point.

    As ever, the best login/verification system uses multiple factors, never just one.

    • Something you know
    • Something you are
    • Something you have

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