Apple Awarded Patent Detailing Facial Detection and Recognition System for Devices

Apple has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) for a system that allows for a personal computing device such as a Mac or iPhone to be controlled through facial detection and recognition, primarily for security and convenience purposes.

The patent, which was filed back in 2008, introduces itself by describing the problem with the interaction between users and current electronics, stating that devices such as computers inconvenience the user by requiring action in order to continue operating without interruption, along with detailing the security hazard that comes with the inability of passwords to detect a truly authorized user.

apple_face_detection_flow
The facial recognition and detection system is broken up into three separate parts, and includes a face detection decision application, a face recognition application, and an input/output control manager, all working with an image sensor to determine whether a user is authorized to control a device.

In a further aspect, a personal media device includes an image sensor that captures one or more images. The device includes a data store having at least one known face pattern that is associated with an authorized user of the media device. The device includes a processor that detects one or more faces in the captured images, recognizes at least one of faces as the face of the authorized user by comparing the one or faces with the data store, and controlling the operation of an application of the device in response to recognizing at least one of the faces as the face of the authorized user.

An incoming phone call is cited as an example scenario that could benefit from a facial recognition and detection system, with the system keeping the screen off and only giving off a ringtone or vibration alert if a user is not authorized compared to displaying a normal call screen for an authorized user. The same principle is applied to an incoming email, where a message can be hidden if an unauthorized user is detected.

The patent also details a number of examples as to what information the facial detection and recognition system cites in authorizing users, with information such as visual facial features and background being matched up against stored information to determine whether control of a device can be accessed or not.

It is unknown exactly how or even whether Apple plans to utilize this technology in its products, but competitors such as Samsung and Google have already touted simple facial recognition as key features in their products. Apple also recently completed its acquisition of 3D body sensing firm PrimeSense, and while the system detailed in the patent differs from the firm's image sensing technology, both could be used as part of a bigger initiative by Apple to better integrate human recognition into its products.

This is also not the first time evidence of Apple's interest in face recognition has surfaced, with other patent applications addressing similar concepts while the company acquired Swedish face recognition firm Polar Rose back in 2010.

Tag: Patent

Top Rated Comments

Alumeenium Avatar
135 months ago
You're late on your taxes, iPhone will remained locked :eek:
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
8281 Avatar
135 months ago
Soooo...facial recognition research, but we still can't run two apps at the same time on an iPad.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tuxon86 Avatar
135 months ago
Well, now the NSA will have confirmation of who is really using the device they are spying on for sure...
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chaosbunny Avatar
135 months ago
I hope this feature needs to permanently connect to Apples Servers to work and will offer a direct upload to the NSA or else it wouldn't make sense.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ThisIsNotMe Avatar
135 months ago
Hello NSA? They will know what you look like..lol.

They already know what you look like.........
Its called Facebook or Linkedin.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheHateMachine Avatar
135 months ago
A 2D face sensor can easily be defeated with a printed picture of the authorized face.

Doing this in 3D would be interesting (then you need a very convincing mask or something to fool it...), but that's not what was patented here. Interesting the patent took so long (and was granted! It's so obvious / unoriginal / so many people have already done it, what on earth is there left to patent?)

The face unlock on Android can be setup to require a blink and/or a voice and thus printed pictures are defeated.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Camera Lozenge 2 Colors

iPhone 16 Plus Rumored to Come in These 7 Colors

Wednesday April 10, 2024 3:52 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 16 Plus may come in seven colors that either build upon the existing five colors in the standard iPhone 15 lineup or recast them in a new finish, based on a new rumor out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker Fixed focus digital, Apple's upcoming larger 6.7-inch iPhone 16 Plus model will come in the following colors, compared to the colors currently available for the...
apple tv 4k yellow bg feature

When to Expect a New Apple TV to Launch

Tuesday April 9, 2024 8:30 am PDT by
It has been nearly a year and a half since the current Apple TV was released, so the device is becoming due for a hardware upgrade. Below, we recap rumors about the next Apple TV, including potential features and launch timing. The current model is the third-generation Apple TV 4K, announced in October 2022. Key new features compared to the previous model from 2021 include a faster A15...
apple silicon feature joeblue

Macs to Get AI-Focused M4 Chips Starting in Late 2024

Thursday April 11, 2024 10:10 am PDT by
Apple will begin updating its Mac lineup with M4 chips in late 2024, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The M4 chip will be focused on improving performance for artificial intelligence capabilities. Last year, Apple introduced the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips all at once in October, so it's possible we could see the M4 lineup come during the same time frame. Gurman says that the entire...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iOS 18 WWDC 24 Feature 2

iOS 18 May Feature All-New 'Safari Browsing Assistant'

Wednesday April 10, 2024 6:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 will apparently feature a new Safari browsing assistant, according to backend code on Apple's servers discovered by Nicolás Álvarez. MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris confirmed that the code exists, but not many details are known at this time. Álvarez said it seems like the browsing assistant will use iCloud Private Relay's infrastructure to send relevant data to Apple in a...
maxresdefault

Review: Six Months With the iPhone 15 Pro

Wednesday April 10, 2024 10:53 am PDT by
It's been a bit over six months since the iPhone 15 lineup came out in September, and MacRumors videographer Dan Barbera has been using an iPhone 15 Pro Max sans case since launch. Over on our YouTube channel, Dan did a long term review to demo how his phone has held up and his thoughts on the Action button, battery life, and camera features. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...