Tired of remembering and entering your password for your smartphone or other devices? Apple may have a solution that you can never forget -- your face.
On Tuesday, the technology giant received a patent that unlocks an iPhone and other devices through facial recognition. Patent No. 8,600,120, entitled “Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition,” describes the ability of a device to “detect the presence of at least one user, without the need for receiving active user input information,” so that certain device operations can be controlled on the basis of whether a user is present.
The operations would not have to be restricted to unlocking the phone, but could include, say, turning off certain apps if the owner’s face was not detected. The patent describes one configuration where control would be in response to one or more faces in captured images, at least one of whom is detected as an authorized user.
In addition to logging in or out of a device, the control triggered by the face/image identification could launch one or more apps, select or de-select one or more elements in an app, play or pause music or video, or control a wide range of other possibilities.
In other words, while using your face as a password seems like the near-term implementation, Apple’s patent potentially lays out a completely new paradigm for interactive control, based on image, facial or object recognition.
One imagines your face could unlock the device, a smile could bring up your personal calendar, and holding up your car key could trigger the app that locates where you parked your vehicle. When an incoming call is detected, the device might first scan to ensure you are you, and, if confirmed, it will then let the call through. A similar gating process could work before your e-mails are displayed.
Touch ID, PrimeSense
While an iPhone seems the most logical home for such technology, the patent is not limited to smartphones. The technology could also reside on Macs, tablets or TVs.
Apple, like most large technology companies, regularly files for and receives patents, so the existence of this one does not indicate this kind of interaction will appear anytime soon on its products. But there have been several recent developments that could be seen as steps in that direction.
The company introduced a Touch ID fingerprint sensor in its iPhone 5s model, thus moving forward in the direction of biometric control. In November, Apple bought PrimeSense, a 3D sensing company whose technology is used in Microsoft’s gestural control Kinect. While gestural control differs from facial or object recognition, the two seem like natural complements in a touchless, interactive environment that resembles the kind of interaction between people who recognize each other, proceed according to recognition, and interpret gestures and speech.
Posted: 2013-12-04 @ 2:47am PT
Never ceases to amaze me how the press sing praises with each Apple patent published as being innovative when all they are doing is mirroring past technology and claiming it's revolutionary.
Posted: 2013-12-03 @ 3:38pm PT
Seems Apple can patent patents now. USA patent law is bogus.