December 3, 2013
In the coming years, facial recognition and detection technology could be used to unlock, and perform tasks on, Apple devices. This could result in a more secure and productive user experience. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has awarded Apple with U.S. Patent No. 8,600,120 for “Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition.” The technology describes a three-point system: a face detection decision application; a face recognition application; and an input/output control application. Working together, these components can detect whether a user is authorized to use a device. If so, certain functions are activated within the computing environment. As noted in the patent:
The invention, in various embodiments, addresses deficiencies in the prior art by providing systems, methods and devices that enable a personal computing device to detect the presence of at least one user, without the need for receiving active user input information, and control certain device operations depending on whether a user is present.Facial technology is already being used in the consumer electronics industry. Both the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 use the feature for login purposes. Some of Apple’s smartphone competitors have also been testing similar functionality. Apple recently bought PrimeSense, the motion-sensing hardware and software company behind Microsoft’s first Kinect sensor. This acquisition, coupled with Cupertino’s patent award, suggests the company is looking into different forms of user input for future devices. U.S. Patent No. 8,600,120 was first filed in March 2008. Jeff Gonion and Duncan Robert Kerr are listed as its creators. See also: Apple Awarded Patent For A Lytro-Like Light Field Camera, Apple Looks To Have Big Plans In Store For The Touch ID Sensor, and Apple Goes After The 'STARTUP' Trademark For A Second Time.