One of the more annoying things about reading text on a smartphone is that, if you spend long enough reading without scrolling down the page, your screen goes into power saving mode. It's an unfortunate consequence of the fact that today's smartphones just aren't quite smart enough to tell when we're using them. That all could be changing in the near future though.
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Yet another Apple patent application has been released. This one is for a facial recognition system that would allow your iPhone to actually know when you are looking at it. It'll read your face and, if your eyes are open and focused on it, it will know not to sink back into power saving mode.
The patent lists other applications for the facial recognition software, including an ingenious idea to improve smartphone security.
“A personal media device comprising:an image sensor for capturing one or more images,a data store including at least one known face pattern, the at least one known face pattern being associated with an authorized user of the media device, anda processor for i) detecting one or more faces in the captured one or more images, ii) recognizing at least one of the one or more faces as the face of the authorized user by comparing the one or faces with the data store, and iii) controlling the operation of an application of the device in response to recognizing the at least one of the one or more faces as the face of the authorized user.”
In essence, this would allow you to save your face as the authorized user of your iPhone. Some apps and processes could be open to anyone, but others (like, say, your contact list or text messages) could be programmed to lock out any faces but your own.
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As far as we know, this isn't much more than the germ of an idea at this point. That said, it won't be long before we start to see tech like this popping up in our mobile devices, even if Apple isn't the first company to make it workable. Facial ID technology is way too useful for security purposes to not become widely used. After all, thumb print scanners are SO last century.