Apple files patents for object and facial recognition for the iPhone

Apple files patents for object and facial recognition for the iPhone

Summary: MacRumors notes that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published "several dozen" patent applications this morning including an interesting one that covers object and facial recognition, messaging, and voice modulation.

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iPhone object recognition

MacRumors notes that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published "several dozen" patent applications this morning including an interesting one that covers object and facial recognition, messaging, and voice modulation.

Unwired View took a closer look at one patent filed on March 8th, 2008 which describes how Apple could incorporate facial detection and recognition technologies into an iPhone, iMac and other devices.

One use-case for the technology would allow the device to determine whether a user is actively or passively interacting with the device. For example, preventing the iPhone's auto-lock timeout from engaging when a user is actively watching a movie or video.

The other more obvious use for the facial recognition technology would be as a means to control access privileges to an Apple device. Much like the Apple's biometric patent that was discovered last week, the facial recognition algorithm could use the iSight camera built into all Macs (except the mini) to determine a user's identity and allow them to log in just by mugging for the camera.

The technology could also be linked to Apple's built-in parental control software to allow parents to restrict access privileges on a Mac used by children. It could even provide limited, guest access to a Mac to an unrecognized user or, alternatively, shut the machine down or even phone home when an unrecognized user attempts to access the device.

It's not hard to imagine Apple extending the functionality of its popular Find My iPhone feature to its notebooks and even desktop computers to help the recovery of lost or stolen Mac hardware.

The object recognition patent describes how a mobile device user could detect an object via camera, RFID sensor or other means and have their device automatically identify and provide additional information on the object. The artwork accompanying the patent (above) shows how a user could use the technology to identify a painting by Monet, but the killer application would be for identifying retail products for doing price comparisons.

The features would certainly add some sizzle and sex appeal to the already hot iPhone, but could be quirky without a forward-facing camera. Also, I'm wondering how strong the algorithm is and if, for example, it could be fooled by a high-resolution color photo of an authorized user held in front of the camera.

Other patent applications filed by Apple include text message filtering, a smart messaging interface and changing the voice output on the iPhone.

Tip: MacRumors

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Legal, Mobility

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9 comments
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  • Hmm, where have I seen this innovation before?

    [i]Much like the Apple?s biometric patent that was discovered last week, the facial recognition algorithm could use the iSight camera built into all Macs (except the mini) to determine a user?s identity and allow them to log in just by mugging for the camera.[/i]

    Oh yeah, I remember:
    http://www.transworldnews.com/NewsStory.aspx?id=91498&cat=12
    [i]Project Natal?s camera uses facial recognition to automatically log-in players[/i]

    Cupertino, start your photocopiers!!! :)
    NonZealot
    • Lol, good one. Btw, MS have implemented facial-recognition into their webca

      ..webcams, i have a MS VX 6000 and it uses facial recognition to follow my face around when i move my head, zoom in-zoom out, pan left-right etc.

      I think Logitech Webcams have this feature too/
      NeoGeneration
      • late, but better...

        Apple may be late to the game on lot's of ideas, but that's good. it seems
        to me that they look at current technologies, and see what could be
        done better. So even if they are late to add a feature to a product, they
        always (in my opinion) seem to implement it better than anyone
        who had it on the market first.

        plz no flamz. I'm partial to both Apple and MS (or at least Win 7)
        earthserpent
    • Photocopiers?

      Nah, this one is using the shrinking ray...

      It'll be interesting to see when - or IF - this makes it to the iPhone...
      athynz
  • @NonZealot: it isn't copying

    Apple's developers were transported back in time BEFORE the wheel was invented and they communicate their completely original ideas back to the present day for production only. It's not copying because, really, they came up with the idea long before anyone else.

    dir.
    ericesque
    • And here, all this time, I believed that

      Apple's [i]Time Machine[/i] was just a backup program!

      :)
      GuidingLight
  • Same old trolls...

    ...with no understanding of patent law and prior art, just big
    heads, big egos and no real friends.

    [b]YAWN[/b]
    SimonUK
  • RE: Apple files patents for object and facial recognition for the iPhone

    Mask?
    phatkat
  • RE: Apple files patents for object and facial recognition for the iPhone

    I think this technology has some great possibilities not only for security but things that need recognition, like sorting objects on a table or discerning similar objects at two different places.
    phatkat