By Yoni Heisler
Amid rumors that the iPhone 8 will incorporate advanced facial recognition features, the Hebrew-language website Calcalist (via Times of Israel) is reporting that Apple recently acquired Realface, an up-and-coming Israeli startup with impressive real-time facial recognition software.
Lending credence to rumors that the iPhone 8 may forgo the use of Touch ID in favor of facial recognition, Realface’s software is said to be sophisticated enough such that it can reliably be used as a foundation for mobile-based biometric authentication.
As is often the case when Apple acquires a company, Realface’s web presence has already been wiped from the web. Still, thanks to the magic of Google, we were able to poke around and dig up some intriguing nuggets of information about the company’s promising technology.
Realface boasts that it’s AI software rests upon deep learning methods and is so reliable and quick that the end-result is an absolutely seamless user experience.
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“Our technology provides our customers and end-users with the highest level of authentication and security available on all platforms,” says Realface. “We have proprietary IP in the field of frictionless face recognition and effective learnings from facial features.” Incidentally, Realface’s technology is also capable of filtering out photos of faces and advanced sculptures designed to trick the software into thinking that a device’s camera is honed in on an actual human face.
Further, Realface claims that its software can recognize faces with a 99.67% success rate, an impressive figure that is even higher than the average 97.5% success rate exhibited by humans. To this point, a profile on Realface from last year relays that the company’s technology is so advanced that it can even distinguish between identical twins with alarming and impressive accuracy.
What’s particularly interesting is that Realface’s technology is not only capable of discerning individual faces, but can also analyze specific facial expressions as a means to determine a user’s mood. If this sounds somewhat familiar, Apple last year acquired Emotient, a company with similar AI technology of its own.
Now as for what Apple is planning to do with its growing portfolio of AI-based facial recognition software, well, that’s the million dollar question. While initial speculation centered on Apple rolling out augmented reality features, perhaps similar to what the beloved MSQRD app does, more recent rumblings suggest that Apple wants to position facial recognition as a means to identify users and securely authorize sensitive transactions. Again, there are even reports that facial recognition might ultimately serve as a replacement for Touch ID.
While this seems far-fetched, Ming Chi-Kuo — an analyst with the best track record regarding Apple rumors — seems to think otherwise. In a recently issued research note, Kuo claims that the iPhone 8’s rumored edgeless design cannot, for whatever reason, coexist peacefully with Touch ID. Consequently, Kuo relays that Apple wants to eventually replace Touch ID with a facial recognition solution.
When it comes to Apple, the old adage that when there’s smoke, there’s fire is generally true. That being the case, it stands to reason that facial recognition will be a huge and incredibly exciting component of the iPhone 8 user experience.