Arya Stark would love the iPhone X Face ID technology.

This is not a review of the new iPhone X, for that you will have zillions of websites to inform you, the sames I read myself yesterday. One thing has been surprisingly new in the most recent Apple flagship phone and it’s not the full screen, it’s not the “ears”, it’s not the battery life, nor the wireless charger. It’s Face ID.

It’s funny to see when a company tries to innovate changing things in a quite established phone design (mainly Nokia, in the pre-iPhone era, was bold enough to design crazy phones), there are a bunch of collateral effects that sometimes create something unique. Since Samsung launched the S6 Edge, the race to have the best screen surface vs. size ratio had begun. But that meant a lot for the iPhone, since the home button was an iconic element since the very beginning. Taking the home button out from the front would mean you have to put it elsewhere (like on the back as many LGs do since 3 or 4 years), or innovate and take it completely out, like they finally did. The original functionality of the home button could be easily replaced by other gestures on the screen, but in the last years that button was also holding the fingerprint reader, which has evolved in terms of security to a point where Apple based the payment authentication on it.

By sacrificing the fingerprint reader, Apple creates (yet) a new playground for phones

The only possible, obvious identification mechanism left was to use the front camera. Samsung explored the iris scan (a historical way to authenticate people in security areas) but it seems it’s not 100% secure and a flat picture could be easily faked. So Apple had to “innovate”, using another well known technology, 3D mapping via infrared grid.

It’s well known because the first version of Microsoft Kinect had it, although it has been replaced with newer and more accurate technologies.

Future app developers could integrate 3D mapping via the infrared grid for a myriad of usages, not only identification or payments

And this has a lot of implications:

  • If it doesn’t exist (didn’t have much time to investigate) a new picture format will be created, not only containing the image itself, but the 3D correspondence for each dot.
  • Panoramic pictures will also be possible, scanning an entire object or person and building the complete 3D model.
  • With this new 3D layer AIs could be exponentially better in identifying objects. This has a lot of implications in object recognition, such in shopping environments.
  • 3D people models could be an input for online fashion retailers. no need to give your pants size anymore.
  • 3D models could be sent to 3D printers directly and Amazon Prints will send you the piece.
  • Hackers will steal 3D models of faces, and use it for malicious purposes
  • Arya Stark wouldn’t need to kill people to have their faces, with the iPhone X, she would be able to print them at home.

Finally Apple innovates again, even if it’s with existing technology. Double merit.

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