We are all humans. Our faces define our identities. When you see a man on the street, the face is the most important element that personifies that person. From school year book to Facebook, our faces are our lives. They initiate us at primary schools where most of us take our first passport photos for entrance examinations into secondary schools. When we get jobs, they ask for photos for badges. At immigration services, they want to see our faces. Indeed, our faces are our journeys in life.
Now, Apple wants to use those faces to secure our digital lives. The iPhone X facial recognition feature is not new because Samsung has already implemented a face-based technology in Galaxy S8 to unlock phones. What Apple has done differently is the immersive use of 3-D topology of a face as a password. That 3-D is the key innovation. Apple uses infrared lights with advanced AI (artificial intelligence) to correlate a person’s face with the one already stored in the iPhone X memory. If there is a match, the phone is unlocked. The Face ID feature in the iPhone X will make it into other smartphones in coming months, with varying levels of efficiency.
But the value of the face is not going to stop with Apple. According to the South China Morning Post, China is developing a facial recognition technology with the capability to match the faces of about 1.3 billion Chinese to their ID photos with more than 90% accuracy. As they build this massive dataset of faces, they will connect them to surveillance camera networks powered by cloud computing solutions across China. Go figure: the same human face, now a national symbol of tracking everything a citizen does. With the requirements that citizens use their real identities in their social media networks, before they can comment on things, China is sure to have a good grasp of what is happening in the lives of every citizen. And the fact that China also wants to take about 1% of equity in many Chinese technology companies, you will understand where that country is going. From Fortune Newsletter:
Chinese internet regulators are looking into taking 1% stakes and management roles with corporate decision-making powers in social media giants Tencent, Weibo and Alibaba Group’s Youku Tudou, as the tech companies rapidly expand beyond their niches into finance, health care and transportation services that affect hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens.
From Apple to China, using our faces is now part of the digital lives. Facebook ran some algorithms which made it possible that someone can pick a photo, put it in Facebook ecosystem and using that image, Facebook will tell you whom that individual is. That is the same technology that makes it possible to auto-tag your friends when you are in a group photo. It saves you time, but it also confirms that Facebook knows you really well. That is the new age we are now.
The Future of Face in Tech
What Apple has done with its Face ID is unleashing AI and advanced 3-D microprocessors in our pockets. To all the possibilities, this is at infancy. In coming versions of iPhone, I expect the deployment of these tools and technologies to drive facial-based behavioral biometrics which make it possible for people to use their facial movements to shop, initiate phone calls, and do banking.
In coming models, I expect Apple to link this facial technology to how we use our phones. That includes how we navigate menus, scrolls, close pages, and more. Those elements which are certainly unique in the way we use digital systems can be used to detect fraud. To make that happen, you may be asked to use your phone for two weeks and after the two weeks, your bank app will activate the feature since it has collected enough data about how you use your phone.
If someone is trying to impersonate you, it is not likely the person can easily construct the subconscious movements which the phone and apps have built about you. This application will work even if you are using a different device. All you need to do is to log into the bank app, and they will use the already stored insights about your behavior, to ascertain if fraud is about to happen.
Voice and face will drive a new dawn in computing and security. Amazon Alexa is pushing the envelope on voice, to create a new operating system which will be pivotal to the new age of computing. Apple’s iOS will introduce us to more behavioral biometrics as it continues to integrate the face, and subconscious human usage of mobile devices and commerce. The zenith will come when they can use these fascinating datasets to extrapolate our thought processes. In other words, by looking at your face, and how you are moving your cursor, Apple could determine what you are thinking or about to do, and help you finish it up. Calling a taxi, or calling sick for work, or calling a doctor could in future be outsourced to our phones: they look at our faces, piece together subconscious movements on our devices, and using both make the calls on what we are thinking. Our faces can go far indeed. Yes, it will be a key element to Thought Computing, after we are done with perfecting Voice Computing.