Recently, Qualcomm Inc., a leading supplier of mobile-device chips announced its Spectra imaging system, which (according to the Wall Street Journal, 8-21-17) “can extract depth information from objects including faces.” In other words, your password will soon – finally! – be replaced by an image of your face. It’s about time, eh?
The company plans to use the technology soon in its next line of mobile processors, and around the same time, Apple may soon, it is rumored, offer a similar feature on the iPhone. Might facial recognition finally be the password replacement technology we’ve longed for?
The technology differs a bit from that used in security cameras around the world. Your phone or laptop camera, after all, don’t need to spot you in a crowd, it just needs to distinguish one face – yours – and it can do it very well, since you’re likely to be only a foot or two away. Its structured light technology is said to splay tiny infrared dots across an image of your face (or other target) and, by reading distortions, capture incredibly detailed and accurate information. And because of its use of infrared technology, it can work in the dark.
Apple has not confirmed any of this yet, according to the Journal, but it does appear to have the necessary patents, technology and, perhaps, inclination – say at the unveiling of the 10th anniversary iPhone.
Best of all, Qualcomm has indicated that its Spectra chip with facial-depth recognition capabilities will be available for future versions of Android phones. While previous versions of the Samsung phone could be ‘fooled’ by holding up an image of another person’s face, the Spectra chip boasts of having the added capability of “live-ness detection,” thus making it less likely to be fooled, even with a 3-D printed mask.
You’ll teach your phone the same way you do with thumbprint recognition today, and images will be securely stored on the device itself, not in the cloud.
Eventually, supply chains being what they are, the technology will trickle down into less expensive devices, with the potential to actually become “mundane” one day according to the CEO of biometrics company Tascent. That’s a good thing, as the improved simplicity and security that come from being able merely to look at our devices is likely to curb our otherwise bad password habits through which we all too often put our finances and personal information security at risk.