updated 02:06 am EDT, Fri May 11, 2012
Awarded patent on 3D biometric object detection
Apple, which has been working and gaining patents for 3D and face-recognition technologies for several years, was awarded another one yesterday for a novel way of creating 3D models out of two-dimensional data. The work in this area started in earnest when Apple purchased Swedish firm Polar Rose in 2010, and has wide implications for commercial applications. One application could be for future iOS or Mac security logins.
The company's patent avoids a common pitfall of face-recognition technologies such as changing lighting conditions or other issues such as hairstyle changes or face positioning. By using spatial points of reference (distance between eyes and ears for example) and analyzing lines and angles on things like objects or faces, the system can build a 3D reference that is less easily fooled by small changes (or, in the case of Android systems, holding a photo of the person up at the right distance).
Observers have been expecting Apple to implement a facial-recognition login system for iOS devices for some time, but Apple may be willing to wait until the system is nearly foolproof before bringing it to a system level. Such a technique for Mac login might be less challenging, given that desktop Macs tend to stay in one place which improves the chances of lighting consistency and other recognition factors.
Such technology could also be implemented for biometric security, medical field uses and security work. Apple has previously patented a system that uses a low-power technique for recognizing when a familiar user is approaching the machine.