3-D face scan­ning could to un­lock iPhone

In­tent is to re­place the Touch ID fin­ger­print scan­ner

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - MARK GURMAN

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Ap­ple is work­ing on a feature that will let you un­lock your iPhone us­ing your face in­stead of a fin­ger­print.

For its re­designed iPhone, set to go on sale later this year, Ap­ple is test­ing an im­proved se­cu­rity sys­tem that al­lows users to log in, au­then­ti­cate pay­ments, and launch se­cure apps by scan­ning their face, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the prod­uct. This is pow­ered by a new 3-D sen­sor, added the peo­ple, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied dis­cussing tech­nol­ogy that’s still in de­vel­op­ment. The com­pany is also test­ing eye scan­ning to aug­ment the sys­tem, one of the peo­ple said.

The sen­sor’s speed and ac­cu­racy are fo­cal points of the feature. It can scan a user’s face and un­lock the iPhone within a few hun­dred mil­lisec­onds, the per­son said. It is de­signed to work even if the de­vice is lay­ing flat on a ta­ble, rather than just close up to the face. The feature is still be­ing tested and may not ap­pear with the new de­vice. How­ever, the in­tent is for it to re­place the Touch ID fin­ger­print scan­ner, ac­cord­ing to the per­son. An Ap­ple spokesper­son de­clined to com­ment.

In test­ing, the face un­lock feature takes in more data points than a fin­ger­print scan, mak­ing it more se­cure than the Touch ID sys­tem, the per­son said. Ap­ple in­tro­duced Touch ID in 2013 with the iPhone 5s for un­lock­ing the phone and it added sup­port for au­then­ti­cat­ing pay­ments and log­ging into apps a year later.

Ap­ple is not the first to use dif­fer­ent forms of bio­met­ric au­then­ti­ca­tion. In its lat­est phones, Sam­sung in­cluded iris scan­ners that let users un­lock their phones and make pay­ments by scan­ning their eyes. Sam­sung’s feature on its Galaxy S8 smart­phone launched to poor reviews as users were able to trick the sen­sor with printed pho­to­copies of a per­son’s eyes. Ap­ple’s sen­sor has 3-D depth per­cep­tion, which means the sys­tem is less likely to be duped by 2-D pic­tures.

The new iPhone’s de­but this fall will mark the big­gest up­grade in years to the com­pany’s most im­por­tant prod­uct.

Ap­ple launched the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last fall, fo­cus­ing on camera and speed up­grades while us­ing the same de­sign as the pre­vi­ous iPhone 6s (which es­sen­tially added a pres­sure-sen­si­tive screen to the 2014 iPhone 6’s de­sign). The iPhone gen­er­ates nearly two-thirds of Ap­ple’s sales, and has be­come a cen­tral hub for prod­ucts like the Ap­ple Watch, Ap­ple TV, and the new HomePod.

In ad­di­tion to the face un­lock feature, Ap­ple is test­ing next-gen­er­a­tion iPhone pro­to­types that in­clude a ded­i­cated chip for pro­cess­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence tasks and screens that can dis­play con­tent at a higher frame rate.

The AI chip is in­ter­nally called the Ap­ple Neu­ral Engine and would im­prove bat­tery life by han­dling tasks like image recog­ni­tion and typ­ing sug­ges­tions, Bloomberg News re­ported in May.

The faster screens in test­ing are the same as the Pro­Mo­tion dis­plays in Ap­ple’s lat­est iPad tablets, one of the peo­ple said.

For the de­vice’s decade an­niver­sary, Ap­ple is also test­ing a new glass cas­ing, steel edges, and a larger dis­play that fits into a smaller over­all body, Bloomberg News re­ported in April.

The new phone will have glass on both the front and back that curves at the edges.

Be­tween the glass front and back is a stain­less steel frame that houses power and vol­ume con­trols, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The front and back glass looks con­tin­u­ous be­cause of how thin the steel sur­round­ing frame is, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the de­vice said.

, GETTY IM­AGES FILE PHOTO

Ap­ple re­port­edly is work­ing on face scan­ning tech­nol­ogy to un­lock the next gen­er­a­tion of iPhones.

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