Apple Users’ Faces Are the Star Subject of the Company’s New Patent

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was awarded a patent on Tuesday that may have just upped the iPhone security ante — because who needs fingerprint recognition technology when you have facial recognition?

According to Apple Insider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,600,120 for “Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition.” The patent uses facial recognition technology to allow a computing device like an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to promise a secure operating environment, and it comes at no inconvenience to users.

Apple already rolled out highly anticipated fingerprint technology with its newest iPhone 5S device, but the latest patent shows that the company may already be preparing for new products down the line.

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The patent awarded to Apple on Tuesday is different from those it has been granted in the past. The document notes two different processes covered by the license: face detection and recognition. Apple Insider reports that detection involves locating faces within an image, while recognition matches those faces with a person or user — the latter follows the former.

Apple’s patent then covers three distinct systems, a face detection decision application, a face recognition application, and an input/output control application. Separately, these pieces are useless, but together, they can recognize whether a user is authorized to operate a given device and then act accordingly, either activating functions on the phone or tablet, or disabling them.

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