Facial recognition has become an easy and convenient way to unlock smartphones. It was Apple, of course, that popularized face unlock with the Iphone X. Apple was so confident with the face ID technology that it removed touch ID from the equation altogether. Fast forward to 2018 and nearly every Android phone in the market boasts of face unlock. There are a lot of stories about how insecure face unlock on most Android phones is, but Forbes has taken it to the next level. The publication conducted a test where a 3D printed head was used to check if it could unlock the smartphones.
The 3D printed head that was used was printed at Backface in Birmingham, U.K. The person whose face was used for the test was taken into a dome-like studio containing 50 cameras. The camera’s combined to take a single shot that made up a 3D image of the face. After that, the face was loaded up in a software to iron out the kinks, and it was ready to get printed. Within a few days, a 3D printed head was ready and cost about £300 (Rs 27,100 approx. directly converted).
To conduct the face recognition test, the following phones were used – iPhone X and four Android devices – an LG G7 ThinQ, a Samsung S9, Samsung Note 8 and a OnePlus 6. Of all the phones tested, all the Android phones were fooled by the face with varying degrees of ease. The iPhone X on the other hand wasn’t fooled.
According to the Forbes article, all the Android Phones except the OnePlus 6 came with a warning about the lack of security with face recognition. Devices like the Note 8 came with an option for a slow face unlock for added security, but that hasn’t helped make it more secure.
The iPhone on the other hand wasn’t fooled. This is also because of Apple’s investment in its tech. The Cupertino giant worked with a Hollywood studio to create realistic masks to test Face ID. This investment has clearly paid off as the smartphone can tell the difference between a 3D printed face and a real face.
The Forbes story goes on to say, “Microsoft appeared to have done a fine job too. It’s new Windows Hello facial recognition also didn’t accept the fake head as real.”
Apart from being a really cool test what does this mean? Well if you are an iPhone user, then you are secure setting up Face ID as an unlocking mechanism. However, if you are an Android user and are finnicky abut security on your smartphone, you may want to stay away from face unlock and use a pin, pattern, or a complicated password to unlock your phone. After all, with the number of social networking hacks, it is easy for anyone to get access to a bunch of photos of you.
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