Apple has filed a new patent application for a system entitled “Locking and unlocking a mobile device using facial recognition”.
As AppleInsider reports, the filing builds on a couple of previously granted patents, offering some minor refinements to those earlier systems. But the basic idea remains the same: The smartphone’s front-facing camera detects and scans a user’s face in order to unlock the device.
There is an emphasis this time on the use of an infrared camera in particular, and the patent also describes how the phone could be automatically locked when the user’s face is out of view, and automatically unlocked when it’s detected. All told, the patent can be taken as a strong hint that Apple is indeed pursuing facial recognition for its next iPhone, as rumored.
Of course, Apple files a lot of patents, and there’s no guarantee that this system will ultimately be realized in a device. But with Samsung also reportedly bringing facial recognition to its next flagship device – together with a pioneering iris scanning system – there is good reason for Apple to want to stay competitive in this technological area.