Life gets more complicated every year. Not necessarily a good thing.
Now technologists are bringing us facial recognition technology which will make passwords redundant for mobiles and laptops with webcams.
Dr Phil Tresadern is a researcher at England’s University of Manchester and his team have developed the software, initially for mobile phones. Software installed in your cell phone will be able to recognise you no matter what expression you use as you make or answer a call.
Where’s the advantage over a password? Apparently the facial recognition system will be quicker than using passwords or PIN numbers. The idea is that eventually you’ll be able to access the internet and password-protected sites, via your mobile, without using passwords and PINs – your mobile will already know you’re you.
Tresadern says the software, installed in your mobile, will check 22 of your facial features before accepting that you’re you. The system, he says, will offer new ways of interacting with your phone.
Are you excited by that? I’m not. I seem to be one of the few people in the west to have stopped using a mobile after a few years because I didn’t find it useful. It was just more clutter. I don’t recall a single occasion where I was inconvenienced by not having a mobile phone. I do remember having to return work calls around midnight (to colleagues in the States). I do remember feeling the thing was invasive. Turn it off! people said. OK. But you still know the thing’s there and messages may be piling up. You still feel obliged to check it, like checking on a sleeping baby (but without seeing the cute face.)
But supposing you’re one of those people who can’t get enough ‘advanced’ technology – will facial recognition technology really be an advance? For one thing it seems it may become face- and voice-recognition technology. You’d use it to access mobile internet applications such as email, Facebook, Twitter and your online bank account. But imagine the complications when you have a sore throat or cough or laryngitis.
Even if service providers stick with facial recognition alone, there’ll be complications. How will the Hollywood stars – and increasingly ordinary punters – adjust their software each time they have a face lift, Botox, filler, or those weird permanent eyebrows painted on! The cocaine-using fraternity may have trouble too. Noses deconstructed by cocaine use will confuse the software. How about tattoos? There are individuals who put tattoos on their faces, meaning the software will need to be updated.
And will your phone recognise you with your glasses on? Or if you switch your glasses for contact lenses? Imagine you can’t get at that online bank account in an emergency because you’ve got a bad case of sunburn and your face does not compute? Or your phone says “Nope, don’t remember seeing those false eyelashes before.” Or “That’s not the lipstick you usually wear.”
If you acquire a scar or have stitches or put a plaster on your face will your face recognition software recognise you? If your hangover gives you puffy eyes will your mobile block your net acess? What will it make of a fringe added or removed from your appearance?
Seems like it’s a whole lot of work to develop facial-recognition software for mobile internet access when you can already just key in a pin number or password. But I guess lots of people will like it and buy it. It’s gadgetry after all and lots of people love new gadgets. “How cool is this?” they’ll say, showing you how they can….use their mobile.
** Facial-recognition software can already operate on laptops, with webcams and with the Xbox 360 Kinect. The new software is being developed specifically for mobile devices. It has already been tested on a Nokia N900 by the University of Manchester research team. For more information on the software’s development click the link below.**