Apple has been granted another patent (number 20170076077) involving facial recognition. This one is dubbed “locking and unlocking a mobile device using facial recognition.”
If it ever becomes reality, your iPhone and iPad could be unlocked when their camera recognized your mug. Per the patent, an unlocked mobile device is configured to capture images, analyze the images to detect a user's face, and automatically lock the device in response to determining that a user's face doesn’t appear in the images. The camera capturing and face recognition processing may be triggered by the device having detected that it has been motionless for a threshold period of time.
In another embodiment, a locked mobile device is configured to capture an initial image using its camera, capture a new image in response to detecting movement of the device, determine that the device moved to a use position, capture a subsequent image in response to determining that the device moved to a use position, analyze the subsequent image to detect a user's face, and unlock the device in response to detecting the user's face.
Apple has been granted other patents for facial recognition, including patent number 9,477,829. And in February it was reported that Apple had acquired Israel’s Realface, a cybertechnology startup whose facial recognition technology can be used to authenticate users. The company developed facial recognition software that offers users a smart biometric login.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.