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article imageThe iPhone 8 could scan your face with a laser sensor

By James Walker     Jan 19, 2017 in Technology
Apple is planning to add facial recognition powered by a laser sensor to the upcoming iPhone 8, according to a report today. It will be the first time the company has used technology of its kind on an iPhone. It isn't clear what it will be used for.
Business Insider reports the information comes from a research note distributed to clients by Cowen and Company this week. The next iPhone will supposedly include "some form of facial/gesture recognition" that will be supported by a laser sensor.
Although the report doesn't align with current supply chain rumours, there are indications it could be accurate. The system of a laser sensor and infrared sensor will act as depth-sensing equipment enabling Apple to add augmented reality features to the iPhone. AR is an emerging area of technology that the company has not yet publicly experimented with, to the frustration of some investors.
The technology may have come from PrimeSense, a firm Apple acquired back in 2013. PrimeSense specialised in gesture-based controls and facial recognition for smart home products. Apple could be planning to add facial recognition tech to the iPhone as an additional security layer. PrimeSense's technology cannot be fooled by photos of a face because it uses the depth sensor to create 3D images of the person standing in front of it.
Apple already has its much-loved Touch ID fingerprint recognition system though. Whether consumers will want to switch to facial recognition remains to be seen. It isn't clear how accurate PrimeSense's tech is but generally facial unlock systems are less reliable than fingerprint sensors. The added security may appeal to some users though, even if it does come with a convenience penalty.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously expressed a strong interest in augmented reality. In October, Cook said he expects AR to become as widespread as "three meals a day" but noted it'll "take a while" to reach mass adoption. Apple may be wanting to get AR into the iPhone this year so consumers can begin to get acquainted with it. Apple has a track record of taking previously obscure technologies and making them mainstream.
"AR is going to take a while, because there are some really hard technology challenges there," Cook said in October. "But it will happen, it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it. Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today."
Cowen and Company have also confirmed the next iPhone will include wireless charging for the first time. The company is expected to launch three models of the handset this year, including a large 5.8-inch version with an OLED display. This will have a "fixed flex" wraparound design similar to Samsung's Edge display.
Additional changes thought to be planned for 2017's iPhones include a new glass-backed design and improved performance. The handset's camera gear will also be upgraded again with the iPhone 7 Plus' dual-lens system returning to the larger models available.
More about Apple, iPhone, iphone 8, Security, Cybersecurity
 
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