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Apple to integrate face detection in iOS?

Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, drew a lot of attention for its Face Unlocking feature during the Galaxy Nexus launch event a few months back. Never mind the fact that the presentation was a fail, and a pretty funny one that (check it out here) - it was a genuinely innovative feature that no other OS had seriously implemented before.

via Wikimedia Commons

Apple has been associated with face detection technology for a long time. Indeed, one of the many rumors about the original iPad was that it would utilize a front facing camera to recognize a user and make the iPad interface adapt for different people. This was based on an early prototype of the Apple slate, and was asserted by Wall Street Journal, no less.

Now, Apple Insider claims to have come across a new patent application by Apple entitled, 'Electronic Device Operation Adjustment Based on Face Detection'. The potential applications of this patent go beyond simply unlocking a phone, a la Android Ice Cream Sandwich. In fact, it breaks into the territory that WSJ had referred to - recognizing a user, and adjusting the incoming mail, text messages, and customizing apps in general.

The patent application is also said to mention the adjustment of the orientation of an iOS device's screen by determining the corresponding orientation of a user's head. This could potentially be groundbreaking, as the current system of relying on the inbuilt gyrometer can tend to be rather flaky.

Apple could go a long way into easing some familiar problems with devices today if it does integrate the aforementioned facial recognition features into future iterations of iOS. Sharing a smartphone or tablet with a family member can become far safer, for instance, if children access them. Even the inherent danger of having a password, and hence all your data, stolen could be eliminated if face detection gets implemented well.

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