We know the pace of modern technology moves along at an ever increasing rate, but here’s a good one that is already getting close to end of life. Touch ID. Wait. What? Didn’t Touch ID fingerprint sensor just show up a few years ago, and just last year on the MacBook Pro?
Yes. Hey, things change, time marches on, and nothing improves without change. The trend in smartphones these days is tiny micro-bezels, smaller foreheads, and tiny, almost non-existent chins, so where is the Home button to go, and what happens to Touch ID?
So Many Questions
Apple may have licked a problem with a new solution that is even better than the old solution. Touch ID fingerprint sensor shows up in all new iPhones, iPads, and now the Mac. Capture your fingerprint and use the Home button (or, in the case of the Mac, the TouchBar button) to unlock your device or make purchases.
What’s not to like. The fingerprint sensor is embedded into the Home button on iPhone and iPad and that makes unlocking and purchases amazing simple until Apple decided to embed the Home button under the iPhone’s screen.
What about Touch ID?
So far, there hasn’t been a solution available for the masses that connects the embedded Home button and fingerprint sensor to the same location. Samsung’s highly touted Galaxy S8 has the fingerprint on the back. There just wasn’t room on the screen’s chin for such fingertip sized technology.
Word on the rumor streets says Apple has a better way an may dispense with finger printer sensor entirely in the new iPhone.
Think Face ID. Face recognition. A few years ago Apple bought a small company with some amazing face scanning software. The same folks who created the Kinect device for Microsoft’s game console. The end result should be the new iPhone’s 3D facial recognition system that works faster and more accurately than Touch ID.
Think of 3D Face ID as a sensor system which holds an infrared transmitter and receiver capable of making measurements based upon the distance light travels, including light bounced off nearby objects, and that captures and records a face which is then used to unlock the iPhone, and permit Apple Pay to work. Just like the fingerprint with Touch ID but with your face.
Supposedly, this 3D Face ID technology is faster, more accurate than Touch ID, and even works in the dark (it’s infrared). 2D photos need not apply for security admittance. Ditto for static 3D models. Word-on-the-street rumor purveyors claim the same technology is available in Apple’s upcoming HomePod speaker and Siri system.
An always-on face recognition system that works instantly and in the dark would be a jump forward and something we could expect to see in all of next year’s iPhones, then iPad and Mac.
How Does It Work?
Assuming what we know already about such facial recognition technology is accurate, iPhone 8 (or, iPhone Pro; that’s the name I would pick) has infrared transmitters which will spray invisible dots onto a person’s face, and then– because the camera can see infrared that humans cannot– measure the bounce time back to the phone’s infrared receiver. That creates a 3D mesh image of your face. It’s all done in real time, faster than Touch ID and with more accuracy and greater reliability.
Because the infrared light is spread out over an area, it may also be able to identify you while lying flat on a surface or held at an angle. You won’t need to use your finger to unlock the new iPhone. What about Apple Pay on iPhone 8? Obviously, Touch ID won’t be available, but the process may be similar. Hold the iPhone near the NFC terminal scanner. Once connected, the iPhone will already know you are who you say you are and allow the transaction.
What’s not to like about this whole idea of smaller bezels, chin, and forehead, combined with a programmable Home button, combined with an infrared 3D Face ID system?
Get ready to pay more than $1,000 for an iPhone.