As the countdown to the launch of the new iPhone 8 continues, it is looking increasingly likely that Apple’s latest handset will ship with a beefed-up security system. It won’t come in the form of a personal, hulking bodyguard, though, but by way of a revolutionary new scanner which recognises the face of its owner.
How would it work?
The new facial recognition scanner is thought to be right near the top of the list of features that Apple has focused on, according to various industry experts and analytics companies such as KGI Securities. They have looked back to the company’s PrimeSense buyout in 2013, and some of the algorithms that were acquired then, in order to inform their predictions.
The new model could therefore include a new front-facing camera sensor, combined with an infrared transmitting sensor and an IR receiver. This system would be able to recognise the face or iris of the person using it, as well as building a 3D image, and theoretically provide even more security than the fingerprint scanner. It is a system that could be expanded to other applications, including augmented reality games.
The latest rumours tie in with previous suggestions that the iPhone 8 might have no physical button and will instead feature a curved OLED screen with a ‘function area’ towards the bottom. It remains to be seen whether the fingerprint scanner’s days are numbered, or even if it will be abandoned completely for the new handset, but it could very well be that at least one model in the new range relies entirely on the facial scanner.
What about changing Touch ID scanners?
A lot of users will perhaps feel that a touch scanner is secure enough and surely there is no urgent need to change, but Apple may feel in time that there are advantages to removing the home button completely. The extra space would allow room for more new features, or make it easier to develop phones of a slimmer size.
An alternative to the facial recognition system would be to simply improve the fingerprint scanning element so there is no need to actually touch a button, and a filed patent detailing where Apple technology could go next suggests work may already be under way. The idea of ‘acoustic imaging system architecture’ would essentially allow the iPhone to recognise a fingerprint without contact being made.
A series of layers would be built into the screen, one generating acoustic waves and another monitoring obstructions to the waves (i.e your finger hovering over the screen). The information would be fed back to an image analysis system and a 2D map would be created to recognise fingerprint ridges.
When will we find out for sure?
The iPhone 8 is expected to be released in September, and it will be fascinating to see how the final product looks. There have been a number of iPhone 8 rumours as to what might be in store for Apple fans. Among a host of new features, the security system could be one of the most eye-catching, and between the new facial recognition scanner and the acoustic imaging idea it may be that big changes are on the way.