I got the iPhone X recently which is a pretty cool device. In many ways, it changes and reimagines human-device interaction. I will jump deeper into that in another post, for now I want to dedicate this post to a particular feature that has my imagination running wild – Face ID.
Apple made a bold move with the iPhone X and decided that our face is going to be the key to everything. Let’s face it (pun intended), facial recognition is not new technology and Apple is definitely not first to the party. Android has executed this in the past, albeit, the efficacy of that is up for debate. But Apple prides itself in its “We don’t want to be the first, we want to be the best” philosophy.
Does it actually improve upon the status quo though?
But it is going to change everything, in a significant way. Let me tell you why.
My experience with Face ID has been good but not flawless. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly impressive, but it is not Touch ID impressive.
Touch ID kicked off a movement, it made biometrics “cool”. People started to become more comfortable with the idea of using biometrics for consumer-related functionalities, instead of the traditional scenarios where you would use it for official purposes.
Touch ID was not perfect when it came out, but Apple learned and improved quickly. The difference between good technology and great technology is how much you notice it. Great technologies are invisible and so frictionless that you don’t consciously process them. Touch ID excelled at that. It was so effective that Apple had to slow down its speed, because it ended up unlocking devices when people only wanted to check the time on the lock screen.
Now Apple is starting the Touch ID movement all over again with something much more interesting – your visage. It is making mainstream facial recognition less creepy and that is a significant step towards something big.
Face ID is in its infancy now, but imagine what happens when Face ID gets on the same level of omnipresence and effortlessness as Touch ID. The implications for this stretch far faaaaaar beyond unlocking your phone.
Like what, Karan?
I’m glad you asked.
In my limited use of the iPhone X, Face ID has already made appearances in interesting scenarios. The most interesting one has to be when I enter passwords. I store all my passwords in Apple’s Keychain, which means I always have them synced all across my devices. But the iPhone X takes this up a notch (pun unintended).
Every time I access an app/website that is in my saved passwords, it automatically does a Face ID scan and enters my login details. It is incredibly seamless and so much more efficient than typing down passwords from memory or dealing with a clunky password manager.
My banking apps have also started to adopt Face ID, so my account is always a quick look away (literally) and I can use my face to pay with Apple Pay. Cool, right?
It does not need to stop there. I want you to use your creativity, just think about the realm of possibilities that advanced facial recognition will unlock!
With the iPhone X, your face is a gateway to get you to the “thing”. Few years down the road, your face will be the “thing”.
Picture this – it’s 2020 and you walk into a supermarket. Do you pull out a card for payment? Nope. Do you use your phone to pay? Probably. But hold on, what’s this young lady next to you doing? Did she just glance at the till and complete her payment? Damn right, she did. Oh, and what’s that? Automatic loyalty points because she’s a frequent visitor. No card needed.
You see, your face is the key to you. This means that every scenario which involves some level of authentication and validation of your identity is going to get radically simplified with facial recognition.
Face detection is already being deployed to track things like Church attendance, and affluent shoppers in stores, but it is capable of so much more as we make strides in computer vision and biometric tech.
I envision that some day our identity is going to be stored on the blockchain and we can share this data with third parties on-demand.
Walking into a hospital? No problem, just grant access beforehand and when you enter, the hospital cameras detect you and populate the doctor’s computer with your medical history.
Now, I know, this raises a truckload of privacy and ethical concerns. The onus is on us, as a community, to start thinking about these things and how they will affect us in the upcoming years. We cannot be in the backseat when this takes off.
There is a major risk of our identity being used for exploitative purposes
Your face will be your passport, your face will be your loyalty card, your face will be your criminal history. Everything…tied to you. The possibilities are endless and the prospect of this is scary.
Like all technology, we must think critically and tread carefully. Nevertheless, the futurist in me remains optimistic.
It’s Face Time.