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Apple sheds more light on innovation behind Face ID

by Brandon Russell | September 27, 2017September 27, 2017 11:30 am PDT

The big question people have about the iPhone X, after curiosity about the screen, is about how Face ID works. Is it secure? Who has access to this information? And is it really that much better than Touch ID?

The Cupertino company on Wednesday published a new support document detailing the technology behind Face ID, including how it keeps your information secure and adapts to a user’s face, such as when they grow a beard or wear glasses. According to Apple, the technology is capable of working with hats, scarves, glasses, contact lenses, and most sunglasses, though some polarizing lenses may cause compatibility issues.

In a white paper separate from Apple’s new support page, the company describes in-depth how Face ID is capable of adapting to a user’s face. Essentially, it’s constantly capturing images of your face and analyzing those against your “faceprint,” which is stored on the iPhone X’s secure enclave. “This enrolled facial data is itself a mathematical representation of your face captured across a variety of poses,” Apple explains.

Apple adds:

The neural networks may be updated over time. To avoid a user having to re-enroll to Face Id when these neural network changes are made, iPhone X will be able to automatically run stored enrollment images through the updated neural network. In addition to being encrypted and protected by the Secure Enclave, these enrollment images are cropped to your face, minimizing the amount of background information. Face images captured during normal unlock operations aren’t saved, but are instead immediately discarded once the mathematical representation is calculated for comparison to the enrolled Face ID data.

As Apple said during the iPhone X event, the probability of some random person unlocking your phone using Face ID is 1 in 1,000,000, as opposed to 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID. If you have a twin, however, Apple acknowledges that the probability of a “false match” is different; the same goes for children under the age of 13.

The difference between Face ID systems and other facial scanning alternatives is that Apple’s technology matches against depth information, projecting and analyzing over 30,000 invisible dots to create a depth map of your face. That means a 2D photograph won’t be able to spoof the system. Apple also claims spoofing by masks and other techniques won’t work because of the sophistication of its neural networks.

Apple says Face ID will work in ways that aren’t just for security and authentication, too. If it recognizes you’re looking at the iPhone X, for example, it’ll lower the volume of alerts; it’ll also dim the display if your attention is no longer on the device.

The documents are full of information about Apple’s new system, from security, privacy, and accessibility. For example, users who are blind or have low vision can still use Face ID. Check out the source link down below to learn more about Apple’s new technology.

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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