With the new iPhone X, Apple bids adieu to the legacy home button which has happily lived on iPhones for years now. No home button also translates to no fingerprint sensor a.k.a. the demise of TouchID. Instead, the iPhone X comes Face ID, Apple’s new facial recognization system that employs a bevy of sensors for offering a seamless experience that is both secure and more accurate than the competition. Here’s how it works.
The most crucial component for setting up Face ID is the TrueDepth camera system that is essentially composed of various sensors and lenses which reside on the phone’s front top chin. This includes a dot projector, front camera, flood illuminator and an infrared camera. When setting up for the first time, the iPhone X scans your face from a ton of angles and saves that information inside the encrypted enclave hardware chip. When you look at the phone, the dot projector superimposes 30k invisible IR dots and checks that pattern against the stored image in real time.
For avoiding any sort of delays, this is processed by an additional dual-core neural engine CPU which can perform 600bn operations per second. Together with the floor illuminator, the infrared camera makes sure that the FaceID functions effortlessly in dimly lit scenarios as well.
Apple mentions that there’s now only a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of another random person’s face being able to unlock your phone, a probability which is much better than the 1 in 50,000 error rate for Touch ID. The iPhone X can’t be spoofed with an image either and the company also tested the feature with Hollywood-grade masks. In addition to that, Face ID is capable of working even if you switch hairstyles, wear a hat or glasses. It continues to adapt to you if your face changes over time, like if you grow a beard.
On paper, Face ID certainly sounds a competent alternative for Touch ID. It will be quite interesting to see how well it performs in the real world when critics and customers get their hands on it.
For now, you can check out the video below where Phil Schiller explains how the Face ID works on the iPhone X.