If you love the Touch ID fingerprint unlocking system on your tablet or smartphone, you can thank Apple, which brought the technology to the mainstream by adding it to its iPhone 5S in 2013. Now Apple may be on the verge of popularizing a new approach to user identification, with its possible adoption of facial-recognition technology.
Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities issued a report indicating that Apple could add facial-recognition capabilities to the next version of the iPhone, likely the iPhone 8 rumored to be introduced in September. Significantly, Kuo indicated that facial recognition could supplant the existing Touch ID system, according to a report in 9to5Mac.
The use of facial recognition would conform with Apple’s product-design philosophy of elegance and ease of use, allowing a user to unlock their iPhone simply by looking at it.
As is often the case, Apple is not the first company to offer a new technology. There have been previous attempts at facial recognition ID, including the Google and Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone introduced in 2011 and Microsoft’s Windows Hello system rolled out in 2015. However, neither approach has attained widespread adoption.
Instead of being the first to market, Apple has distinguished itself by taking existing technologies and devising the first successful product implementations of such innovations. These products then go on to serve as demonstrations to other companies of how to capitalize on new technologies.
To build a facial recognition system that would be good enough to meet the company’s standards, Apple has been working to assemble the required technology. Apple in 2010 purchased Swedish facial recognition company Polar Rose. In 2016, Apple bought another company in the market, Emotient, which offers technology that can detect emotions by looking at people’s faces.
If history is any guide, the possible integration of facial-recognition capabilities into the iPhone could pave the way for widespread adoption of the technology in mobile devices—and possibly as a means of access control in other areas.
Pratik Dhebri is senior director of product management at Veritone. He works with AI developers and cognitive engine providers to architect and monetize algorithms and applications. Learn more about our platform and join the Veritone developer ecosystem today.