Facial recognition used to unlock our smartphone isn’t exactly considered new technology, but a recent patent granted to Apple has revealed the Cupertino’s rather unique take on facial detection. When Google announced Android 4.0 ICS, one of its features was the ability to unlock the phone via facial recognition. Granted it was circumvented by showing a photograph of the user, the point is that this isn’t new. However Apple’s patent has suggested that not only can facial recognition be used to unlock phones, but it can be used to lock them as well.

An example used was that by relying on facial recognition, the phone can keep itself unlocked and will automatically lock itself when the user’s face is out of view, which honestly sounds a bit like Samsung’s eye-tracking feature on its Galaxy S3 smartphone. In another example, Apple describes how the facial unlocking feature can be activated when the phone has been moved, such as when picked up. When that action is done, it will attempt to capture an image to detect whether the user’s face is present, and if it is, it will unlock the phone.

In the case of Android 4.0, facial unlock has to be done manually in the sense that you will have to first activate your phone’s screen before proceeding to facial unlocking. Apple’s patent describes how the whole process can be automated without having to press any buttons. Like we said earlier, it’s a pretty unique take on existing technology and who knows, perhaps it could be included in future iOS versions and devices.

Filed in Apple. Read more about Patent.

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