A new patent filing suggests that Apple could be looking to include facial recognition technology on future hardware. The details come by way of a USPTO filing for patent number 8,600,120. More interesting than the number though, said filing talks of controlling a "personal computing device" using "face detection and recognition."
The language in the filing is a bit wide and generic in certain aspects. For example, the personal computing device reference goes on to mention that it includes everything from mobile devices to computers, video game systems and cameras as well as cars and ATM machines. That said, we aren't expecting all of this from Apple and would instead be looking towards the iPhone and iPad as well as MacBook computers.
The patent itself appears to be broken into a few sections; face detection decision application, a face recognition application and an input/output control application. These sections would all work together and based on details in the filing, the output could mean a variety of things. One example deals with passive, or non-active use of a computer such as when the user is sitting back watching a movie, or reading.
Another aspect deals with user access. Here we see an example that touched on a user and the ability to determine whether they have access to certain features or functionality. Here the filing touches on how the user would currently enter a passcode for authorization, but goes on to mention how "there is a need for a more efficient and reliable user access control mechanism."
Some other examples here could have certain users getting access to certain apps, or even to certain features within those apps. And again, this would be determined by face detection and recognition. As this is a patent filing, there isn't anything suggesting when this technology could arrive in Apple products. Not to mention, the actual implantation could vary from product to product.