Smartphone makers have been trying to make it easier for users to secure their smartphones without having to remember strong passwords and PINs. But aside from the fingerprint, which itself isn’t infallible, very few technologies have offered both security and convenience in a single package. Even Samsung concedes it won’t use its own iris scanning as the only authentication for Samsung Pay, for example. Sony, however, might have something better in mind, one that involves not only your eyes or even your face but your entire head as well.
Android has long had a “face unlock” feature, but it is merely a convenience than an actual security measure. This functionality simply takes a 2D image of your face and uses that as an authentication factor. It has also been proven to be more easily spoofed than an iris scanner that is can also be deceived, more or less. A true “facial biometric” security system would have to take into account your entire head, that is, its 3D representation.
It just so happens that Sony might have such a technology already in the works. It owns an ironically named subsidiary called SotKinect that specializes in depth sensors to map 3D space. Yes, just like a Kinect from Microsoft. While that technology by itself is already useful for things like augmented reality, Sony is putting it to more serious work.
Partnering with Swiss facial recognition compan KeyLemon, the Japanese consumer electronics giant is planning on turning this into a security mechanism. KeyLemon claims that this system is more robust and more flexible than 2D face recognition. It can’t be fooled by photos, for one, not even by 3D printed heads because of the technology’s “near infrared” capabilities. And it can actually use almost any angle of your head, not just the front, because it’s all in 3D.
Sony will supposedly demo this 3D facial recognition technology at MWC Shanghai this week. Considering the demo will be running on an Xperia device, it’s pretty much a given it would end up in an Xperia flagship someday. Which would also mean that prices of those flagships will jump even higher than usual.