Does a mask tell us more than a face, as Oscar Wilde wrote? Or was he merely expanding on the theme of his novella, The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which a portrait of the eponymous protagonist reflected its subject’s ageing, complete with all the growing furrows of guilt and cruelty? Be that as it may, much of the old literary head-game about the face being the ultimate human identity marker (next to DNA) is now being put to a reality check with Apple unveiling its iPhoneX, which has 3D scanning technology and comes with a FaceID scanner, replacing the TouchID that relied on finger-print scanning that is du jour in earlier iPhones and smartphones of other makers like Xiaomi, Samsung, etc.
Apple claims that its face scanner is tough to cheat as only one in a million faces may be close enough to trick the system whereas the finger print reader is easy meat, with 1 in 50,000 people having similar fingerprints. Nor is it difficult to replicate someone’s fingerprint and unlock her phone and the world of data that carries. The new-generation 3D face recognition systems, however, require the account-holder’s actual presence. Of course, if she’s caught in the rather shuddery situation of being taken hostage and being order by her captor to nod open the phone—finger-print scanning is likely to be as vulnerable to such a situation. 3D face recognition technologies are reportedly reaching such perfection that even identical twins with the same genetics can be identified due to subtle alterations caused by their life experiences. While the iPhone may not always have pioneered a design or hardware/software feature, it has been a trendsetter in the smartphone space. Apple may have unlocked, by offering such locking systems, the new feature that will take the ecosystem by storm.