The iPhone 8 is likely coming out later this month, and one of the hottest rumors about it is that it will have facial recognition technology. Supposedly this will help Apple to do away with its “Touch ID” fingerprint scanner, instead relying on the facial recognition for security purposes. The latest reports are suggesting that the recognition may only take millionths of a second, which is of course almost alarmingly fast.
If we know Apple, however, it’s likely that a technology this exciting will serve multiple purposes. That is to say, it won’t just be used in lieu of a fingerprint scanner to open the phone or potentially unlock apps. Indeed, there are already a few rumors as to what else might be accomplished via the facial recognition tech. And for the most part, they have to do with the augmented reality (or AR) potential of the device.
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For those who may be unfamiliar with the difference, AR is about making virtual elements appear as if they’re in the real world, whereas virtual reality simply presents a false world. The most noteworthy example of AR on a smartphone to date remains the game Pokémon GO. This enabled users to look through their cameras at the real world and find virtual Pokémon there. Apple has already introduced an AR development technology called ARKit, for which demos have already been released. But again, there are some who believe the facial recognition could work hand-in-hand with AR to produce some very unique experiences.
One such experience is in gaming, where facial recognition could be used to create incredibly realistic avatars for gameplay. Think, for example, of casino gaming, which may well become one of the hotter AR experiences in the early going anyway. Mobile-friendly casinos can be constructed a number of different ways, and it stands to reason that design through ARKit will soon count among them. So, imagine roving through an AR casino as a 3D avatar of yourself! It’s simply a new way to make a gaming experience more realistic.
Another use, naturally, could be in social networking, which is actually something that hasn’t been talked about too much. However, when you consider past efforts like Nintendo’s bizarre but ambitious Miitomo app – a freemium social networking program – the use of facial recognition coupled with AR begins to make sense. Basically, you could direct a virtual version of yourself around a projected environment, potentially interacting with other people’s avatars.
We could continue to go on, but in doing so we’d essentially be tallying up the different ways in which AR can be interesting. And that’s a task that can go on endlessly! With many if not most AR applications. However, the thought of a realistic, scaled down avatar brought about by facial recognition makes things even more interesting. In the end, this sort of thing could even make the facial recognition the most important innovation in the new iPhone.