Passcodes are increasingly a thing of the past. Nowadays you can log in to your devices simply using your thumbprint. What if you could do the same by looking into your phone’s camera? According to Apple’s recent press conference, this is precisely how the new iPhone X will work. Will our phones soon greet us like pets happy to see their owners?
How does it work?
The new technology, built into the $999(!) iPhone X announced last on week, works through the phone's front-facing camera, which scans the user's face to determine that this person is indeed the user it is familiar with. The phone notices when the user changes something in his/her appearance, for instance by growing facial hair, or wearing a hat. These look changes are not enough to convince it that the user is a different person. So much for disguises. Like a faithful animal companion, the phone gets to know its owner over time, and can recognize when something about them has changed.
Conversely, the fear that stand-ins might be used to trick the system is, according to Apple, unfounded. Neither a photograph of the owner, nor a mask designed to look like them, nor even their oblivious sleeping face would be validated by the phone's sensors. Think of pets again, they know when something is wrong. The Face ID technology will apparently respond only to an alert and responsive face. Still, the company does acknowledge these concerns. Phil Schiller, spokesman for Apple, joked that users should use a passcode instead if they have an evil twin. And yet according to experts, the technology involved is getting increasingly good at sniffing out the difference even between identical twins.
A family of devices
Our apps and household devices are getting more and more familiar with us. Your computer probably already greets you by name when you log on. Your phone is getting increasingly good at recognizing you by more than just your passcode. Many websites remember when you last visited and welcome you back personally after a long break. Are we approaching the stage where we treat our tech as part of the family?