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Apple's Multi-User Face Recognition Plans for iPad Revealed in Patent

Back when the iPad was still just a rumor, the Wall Street Journal reported that one of the features that Apple had been working on with their upcoming tablet was the ability to recognize users by face.
One person familiar with the matter said Apple has put significant resources into designing and programming the device so that it is intuitive to share. This person said Apple has experimented with the ability to leave virtual sticky notes on the device and for the gadget to automatically recognize individuals via a built-in camera. It is unclear whether these features will be included at launch.
The effort was part of Apple's efforts to make their new tablet a multi-user device. Facial recognition, however, never made it into the iPad, but a newly published patent application gives us insight into this feature that didn't make it into the shipping product.


Screenshot via PatentlyApple

AppleInsider notes that the new patent application offers a way for multiple users to share a device:
The filing provides a simple way for multiple users to share a single device, like an iPad. Each user could customize their personal profile with unique wallpaper, applications and settings, and that profile would be immediately accessed once the iPad recognizes a user's face.
The face detection system reportedly could be a low-power system that is always active, allowing face detection to be the primary method to unlock your iOS device. Apple's patent was filed in June, 2010, soon after the first iPad was introduced.

Face recognition as a security measure, however, has some possible flaws. Google's Android recently introduced a Face Unlock feature as well, but reports have suggested it can be fooled by a photograph of the user.

Top Rated Comments

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35 months ago
Hey Samsung, did you get that?
Rating: 17 Votes
35 months ago

Ugh.... please no face nonsense unless you can really, really, really do it well. I really don't like this idea. Didn't like it on Droid, don't like it on iPhone.


More than an even chance Apple will get it right.
Rating: 17 Votes
35 months ago

Hey Samsung, did you get that?


I apologize for raining on your parade, but somebody needs to tell you that Android 4 already has face recognition for authentication built in. It's just ANOTHER feature that Apple "borrows" from Android.
Rating: 10 Votes
35 months ago

Hey Samsung, did you get that?


Android already has face recognition.
Rating: 9 Votes
35 months ago

I actually may have thought of this before Apple. Why didn't I patent it!


Probably because everyone on the planet has thought of using facial recognition for multi-user login, and/or has already done it before.

Which is why this patent is NOT about multi-user :) ... it's just given as an example use.

THIS PATENT APPLICATION IS ABOUT USING ORANGE SKIN TONES TO HELP WITH A LOW POWER RECOGNITION SYSTEM.

(Along with optionally checking eye and mouth positions and trying to reject photos.)

Hmm. I wonder if the orange range might present a problem:

Remember a couple of years ago when HP's WebCam tracking software totally failed to "see" dark skinned people in front of it? Ooops! Big PR mistake.
Rating: 7 Votes
35 months ago

I apologize for raining on your parade, but somebody needs to tell you that Android 4 already has face recognition for authentication built in. It's just ANOTHER feature that Apple "borrows" from Android.


Apple's patent was filed in June, 2010. Android 4 was announced Oct. 19, 2011.
Rating: 7 Votes
35 months ago
A multi-user function on the iPad would be nice - you may want to let your kids use the iPad, but not (for example) get into your email.

Whether it is facial recognition or not, something would be nice to have.
Rating: 6 Votes
35 months ago

I apologize for raining on your parade, but somebody needs to tell you that Android 4 already has face recognition for authentication built in. It's just ANOTHER feature that Apple "borrows" from Android.


Well....There is actually an app for facial recognition in the Nokia Store and has been available for several months for my N8 and other Symbian devices, so the facial recognition aspect of unlocking a device is nothing new, as Android may have you believe.

Just because other manufacturers want to build this functionality into the OS is really just a natural evolution; and it seems that Apple's implementation goes far beyond the basic implementation that is on ICS.
Rating: 6 Votes
35 months ago
Certainly a useful feature. I could see me using it but I think it would be a bit more useful on computers with more than one user.
Rating: 6 Votes
35 months ago

And it kinda (really) sucks.

A perfect opportunity for Apple to yet again, do their own implementation, and do it right.


Guess you haven't tried the Galaxy Nexus then.
Rating: 5 Votes

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