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Cellphones Patents Google Security Your Rights Online

Google Awarded Face-To-Unlock Patent 194

Posted by Soulskill
from the slam-your-face-into-it-until-it-unlocks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "CNet reports that Google was awarded a patent yesterday for logging into a computing device using face recognition (8,261,090). 'In order for the technology to work, Google's patent requires a camera that can identify a person's face. If that face matches a "predetermined identity," then the person is logged into the respective device. If multiple people want to access a computer, the next person would get in front of the camera, and the device's software would automatically transition to the new user's profile. ... Interestingly, Apple last year filed for a patent related to facial recognition similar to what Google is describing in its own service. That technology would recognize a person's face and use that as the authentication needed to access user profiles or other important information.'"
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Google Awarded Face-To-Unlock Patent

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:54PM (#41238567) Homepage Journal

    Good facial recognition has existed for several years now. Using that tech for authentication is obvious. Patents continue to suck.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:04PM (#41238729)

      It's not just "facial recognition" that they were awarded the patent on. It's the method of recognition and the technology suite behind it.
       
      I swear to god, sometimes Slashdotters come off sounding like a bunch of gimps. Normally these are the people who are made fun of around here but really, Slashdotters aren't that much better for the most part.
       
      How long until one of you wanna-bes post something like "But I thought scientists said coffee was good fer ya!?!? These scientists don't know nothing!!!"

      • by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:56PM (#41239305)

        I swear to god, sometimes Slashdotters come off sounding like a bunch of gimps.

        Wait, Gimp now has facial recognition too?
        He said gimp!, right? I read it on the intertubes!

      • by Cacadril (866218) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @05:11PM (#41239515)
        Patents are supposed to disclose enough to enable a person skilled in the art to recreate the invention. But the problems that a person skilled in the art must overcome to recreate this invention, are thousands of times more demanding than coming up with the details of this claim. How can it be obvious to the person skilled in the art how to implement this invention if the standard of "obviousness" is such that the invention itself is not obvious to the person skilled in the art?

        This patent, like most modern, computer-related patents, do not describe, much less patent, the actual solution to the problem. They patent the problem itself.

        Consider, for instance, claim 12 (for increased legibility, I have added some punctuation, numbering, and line breaks):

        A computer program product
        - stored on a non-transitory tangible computer readable medium
        - and comprising instructions that, when executed, cause a computer system to:
        1. receive an image of the first user via a camera operably coupled with the computing device;
        2. determine an identity of the first user based on the received first image;
        3. if the determined identity of the first user matches the first predetermined identity,
        - then, based at least on the identity of the first user matching the first predetermined identity,
        - log the first user in to the computing device;
        4. receive a second image of a second user via the camera operably coupled with the computing device;
        5. determine an identity of the second user based on the received second image;
        6. and if the determined identity of the second user matches the second predetermined identity,
        - then, issue a prompt to confirm that the first user should be logged off of the computing device
        - and that the second user should be logged on to the computing device;
        7. receive a valid confirmation from the first or second user in response to the prompt;
        8. in response to receiving the valid confirmation,
        - log the first user off of the computing device
        - and log the second user in to the computing device.

        • Keep in mind that enablement is a requirement based on the entire disclosure. The claims indicate what needs to be enabled by the disclosure. Also, enablement doesn't mean that every last detail has to be disclosed - anything already in the prior art, for instance, is assumed to be within the grasp of one having ordinary skill in the art, and so they don't have to regurgitate some face recognition technique that's well known in the art.

      • I swear to god, sometimes Slashdotters come off sounding like a bunch of gimps.

        Quite so. So, let's see...

        1. A method of logging a first user in to a computing device comprising: receiving a first image of the first user via a camera operably coupled with the computing device; determining an identity of the first user based on the received first image; if the determined identity of the first user matches a first predetermined identity, then, based at least on the identity of the first user matching the firs

        • by tooyoung (853621)
          The most shocking part of this entire patent is this:

          10. The method of claim 1, wherein determining the identity of the first user based on the received image includes determining the identity of the first user based on one or more of: a relative position, size, and/or shape of the eyes, nose, cheekbones, and/or jaw of the user in the image of the user

          It appears that the person who wrote this patent has no background in actual facial recognition techniques and bases their knowledge on what they have seen

        • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @07:48PM (#41241425)

          Google has learned how to game the system, same as the rest. The entire patent is junk and is expected to be junk. Being novel or innovative is not its purpose. Its purpose is as a defensive weapon, which the summary mentions in passing. The entire point of this piece of idiocy is in-before-Apple. And they succeeded. Now Apple can't claim they "invented" any of this shit and sue them when the iPad 3 does it. (Ok, that's not true. Apple can and probably still will claim they invented it and sue somebody using Android for it, somewhere along the line. This is just a piece of paper that a dumbshit lawyer can understand.)

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Well, in totally unrelated news, Apple had just received a patent for the same shit but on a phone!

    • by WillKemp (1338605)

      Prior art in face recognition dates back many millions of years!

      • by Wovel (964431)

        Indeed. I have been locking and unlocking my house based on recognizing faces through a peephole since the 70s. My parents claim to have been doing it for decades longer.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Incorporating facial recognition in a device that incorporates a camera. Some thing seems decidedly wrong about that whole principle. Camera takes picture of persons face, hmm, have colour printer. Something just quite doesn't make sense about this whole security picture. Why do I get the feeling it's like selling locks with a set of locks picks designed to pick those locks.

  • My lenovo laptop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sgent (874402) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:54PM (#41238569)

    has had this for over 2 years. It logs onto windows using facial recognition, and different users are logged in under their respective username.

    • I have seen this on Lenovo laptops as well. Going back 3 or 4 years.
      • by danomac (1032160)

        It's not just Lenovo. I've seen Asus laptops that have this too, the first one I saw was about 3 years ago.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      Lenovo has had it for longer than that. The IdeaPad my daughter got when she graduated in 2008 had it.

    • Re:My lenovo laptop (Score:4, Informative)

      by matt007 (80854) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:59PM (#41238651)

      Yep I also have a Lenovo since more than a year, it was delivered with VeriFace pre-installed.
      This shit is a bit slow to load however, Faster to just type the password...

    • by Scragglykat (1185337) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:00PM (#41238667)
      Prior art is too confusing and will only slow everyone down, therefore you must throw it out!
    • TL:DR the patent. However, Dell (a leader in innovation) has had facial recognition to log on to a user account for at least 2 years now, as my studio XPS 16 has the ability to do so.
    • although it's about as useful as the Android version..
      Alienware is still there, but only as it occasionally manages to beat me typing in the password (I gave up even trying to wave myself at the camera solely)
      Android is pretty much as useful. "OOh new feature" *few attempts* - and back to pattern unlock.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Everyone seems to have a laptop that did this several years ago for one person to log in. As I read the google patent, this is for multiple people who use the same device.

      On my old dell laptop, it recognizes my face and logs me in, no problem. When my wife sits down in front of that laptop, though... I am still logged in and she can view my, um, facebook relationships, browsing for a hookup history, gambling history, online dating site history ... you get the idea.

      What this patent does is deny access to

    • Re:My lenovo laptop (Score:5, Informative)

      by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @05:26PM (#41239699)

      has had this for over 2 years. It logs onto windows using facial recognition, and different users are logged in under their respective username.

      But you forgot Claim #9:

      9. The method of claim 1, wherein the computing device includes a phone.

      Further, the pictures may be stored elsewhere (on the network or in your google account for example). So you buy new android phone, and hold it in front of your face and it automatically logs you into your account, using a comparison against photos the phone doesn't actually contain.

      Or you borrow a phone, the owner of which has unlocked it for you, and you go thru the face-unlock (again) and for the duration of that login it is your phone with your account on it. (claim 1 and Claim 20)

      Further, fall back methods are specified in case the images don't compare, or the environment is not conducive to photos (dark).

      Google cited many if not all of the relevant patents in this field. Then they added claim 9, and claim 20, which both specify a phone.

      Its a narrow patent (not that you would ever learn that from the Slashdot summary), that applies to phones and has the added wrinkle of allowing off-device storage of the comparison set of photos which are used to make a 3d model of your face).

  • And before any literalists jump down my throat asking why they'd sue if they don't have the patent or some nonsense like that, I know.
  • I'm guessing this is a preemptive patent, which Google may or may not use in the future. Currently, their face recognition software can't even differentiate between human and animal faces, let alone two human ones.

    • If that's true - it bugs me that a company can patent something they don't even have the ability to produce.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        The problem is that requiring a working prototype would make it impossible for an independent inventor to patent their product before shopping around for investments.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      I am pretty sure it can tell the difference between two human faces. Face unlock on my Galaxy Nexus lets me in, but does not let my girlfriend unlock the phone.

      I don't use it often, but I tested this when I first got the device.

      • Does your girlfriend have a face? Maybe that's why she can't log in.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Yes, she is even human.

          You see when a slashdotter gets very old(30+) he has money and confidence so he can suddenly do very well with the ladies.

  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:55PM (#41238591)

    ...you do it with a stereo camera and verify that it's the person in person and not a photo of that person. There have been previous articles here showing that the technology has been broken using that method, simply holding up a photo of that person to the camera.

    • and not a photo of that person

      Y'know, most webcams are sensitive into the IR. If they could filter out the visible, perhaps a heatmap could be built to recognize a living face.

      Use some sort of liquid crystal that's opaque to IR or transmissive of IR and opaque to visible light instead of the permanent filters typically used today.

      </priorartbitches>

      • The IR wavelengths that webcams can detect are not the same at which our bodies emit; the object needs to be at least at 280 degrees Celsius (536F) to be possibly detected by regular camera sensors.

    • by tooyoung (853621)

      Doesn't work unless you do it with a stereo camera and verify that it's the person in person and not a photo of that person.

      I assume you didn't read the patent...

      7. The method of claim 1, further comprising: receiving a plurality of two-dimensional images of the first user via the camera, the plurality of two-dimensional images being taken from a plurality of different perspectives relative to the user's face, wherein the plurality of two-dimensional images, in combination, provide three-dimensional infor

  • What's to prevent J. Random Hacker, or Ima Crookedcop from showing it a photo of my face, and thereby gaining access?

    • by locopuyo (1433631)
      If it uses an infrared projector and camera (like kinect) that wouldn't work.
      Joe would have to get a mask or use your face.
      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        Or use your recently severed head? Of course... he could just force you to look at it without severing it, but Joe's an asshole.

    • What's to prevent J. Random Hacker, or Ima Crookedcop from showing it a photo of my face, and thereby gaining access?

      Easy, just use a type-written password.

  • Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:56PM (#41238625) Homepage Journal

    Only muiltibillion dollar companies like Google and Apple could come up with such original, clever, and non-obvious uses for existing technologies such as this. Facial recognition?? Whoduthunkit? Logging in? Never tried that before, but it sure sounds neat.

    • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:14PM (#41238875)
      This is the new reality that Apple has created. No matter how mundane, obvious, or silly an idea is, you have to patent it to protect yourself. If you don't because you think it's obvious, you could be sued by someone who does patent it. And if the jury is headed by someone who is gung-ho about patents, you could lose. In the coming years, I expect to see squares, rectangles, circles, ovals, triangles, etc. all being patented because the ~$10k filing and attorney's fees are a heckuva lot cheaper than fighting a patent lawsuit.

      Oh brave new world, that has such people in it!
      • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Informative)

        by Dupple (1016592) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:34PM (#41239071)

        This is the new reality that Apple has created.

        I think Nokia got $600 million from Apple for some fairly 'obvious' stuff, before Apple started suing for 'obvious' stuff.

        Not that it matters who started it really, the Patent system needs some serious reform and hopefully all these law suits will draw some scrutiny on the process.

        If that's a world where scrutiny is bought to system that doesn't work properly then I don't care who made that world. I'm just happy that they did.

      • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Informative)

        by sootman (158191) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:53PM (#41239259) Homepage Journal

        Rocketing up to +5 with an anti-Apple post, I see, but this kind of stupidity in patent-land has been going on a long time. I mean, come on--Slashdot has had a knife-fork-spoon icon [fsdn.com] for "patents" [slashdot.org] for quite some time, and for a reason. 1-click purchasing, anyone?

        October 1999: Amazon.com Receives Patent for 1-Click Shopping [slashdot.org]

        May 2006: Amazon One-Click Patent to be Re-Examined [slashdot.org]

        October 2007: USPTO Rejects Amazon's One-Click Patent [slashdot.org]

        November 2007: Amazon Sneaks One-Click Past the Patent System [slashdot.org]

        March 2010: Amazon 1-Click Patent Survives Almost Unscathed [slashdot.org] ... to trot out just one example.

        • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Interesting)

          by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @05:09PM (#41239491)

          Rocketing up to +5 with an anti-Apple post, I see, but this kind of stupidity in patent-land has been going on a long time. I mean, come on--Slashdot has had a knife-fork-spoon icon for "patents" for quite some time, and for a reason. 1-click purchasing, anyone?

          That's 21st century. This patent nonsense has been around since the 19th. It's not new. Just new to high-tech. In the 19th century it was patent fights over stuff like telephones, internal combustion engines (in particular, the 4-stroke cycle), 20th century had others, and so on. And heck, the car keeps generating patents as well - hybrid vehicles - between Toyota and Ford, they've got it pretty much all locked up (Toyota and Ford only cross licensed because they ended up suing each other over hybrid vehicles).

          Also, I don't think the "non-practicing entity" lawsuits (aka patent trolls) are a new concept either.

          Interestingly, some patents are long lived - intermittent windshield wipers had a lawsuit that started in the mid-50's and only ended up resolved in the early 80s, well after the patent expired.

          Everything old is new again.

      • by Wovel (964431)

        Silly patents have existed for quite some time. Blaming Apple is absurd and ignorant.

    • 7 year old: (grabs phone off the kitchen counter) "Hey Daddy!"

      Me (slicing raw pork): "Yes?"

      7 year old: (phone unlocked, Runs off to play angry birds on it)

  • by puddingebola (2036796) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:59PM (#41238657) Journal
    This story has been posted in violation of my patent 9336.121.354 (European Union patent 983123.4120.123.31234.412), patent on the posting of information on patents using patented or nonpatented electronic devices. I will settle for the sum of $54.24 or a used Samsung Galaxy SII. Also, please see my earlier post regarding your violation of patent regarding the posting of stories over the Web regarding patents.
    • by Soulskill (1459) Works for Slashdot

      This comment has been posted in violation of Slashdot Patent 2019.42.1337, "System and Method For Acquiring Humor-Induced Positive Moderations On an Internet Comment." For a nominal fee of approximately $54.24, we will gladly license the technology for limited personal use.

    • by danomac (1032160)

      Jeez, why would you settle for a used Galaxy SII? Get a new Galaxy S3 at least!

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:00PM (#41238661) Homepage

    I'm sure I've seen a TV commercial for this. The kid is trying to open his dad's phone, and dad walks down the stairs and picks up the phone and it unlocks for him.

    Wish I could remember who did this, but it seems like it's already in production by someone.

    Heck, my XBox can sign me in based on the facial recognition. Just stand there and wave, and it knows which player I am.

    This doesn't really sound like it is a novel idea, just a specific solution to something people have either been doing, or talking about doing, for quite some time.

    • by Tr3vin (1220548)
      That commercial was in fact for an Android phone, the Galaxy Nexus. It was showing off a feature that was added in version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Allowing for multiple users seems like the next logical step, especially for devices that are more likely to be shared by families, such as tablets.
  • I have prior art (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:01PM (#41238679)

    I have prior art that dates back nearly 40 years.

    When I was a kid, my mom taught me that if I don't recognize the face when I look out the door peephole, don't unlock the door.

    Why is anything that has an obvious physical analog even patentable just because it's implemented on a computer?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Why is anything that has an obvious physical analog even patentable just because it's implemented on a computer?

      Well, I will flippantly throw out that a lot of us have been saying for years that the patent system has become "A system for doing something obvious, but with a computer".

      There are a lot of things which are directly analogous to real world examples of things, but magically putting "on a computer" changes all of that. And they keep granting the patents.

    • I have prior art that dates back nearly 40 years.

      When I was a kid, my mom taught me that if I don't recognize the face when I look out the door peephole, don't unlock the door.

      I'm pretty sure your mom didn't teach you to provide a prompt to the person at the door who could then answer yes, and you'd let them in. Sometimes it helps to actually follow the link in the article and read the claims, rather than just immediately crying "I have prior art" based on the title.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        I have prior art that dates back nearly 40 years.

        When I was a kid, my mom taught me that if I don't recognize the face when I look out the door peephole, don't unlock the door.

        I'm pretty sure your mom didn't teach you to provide a prompt to the person at the door who could then answer yes, and you'd let them in. Sometimes it helps to actually follow the link in the article and read the claims, rather than just immediately crying "I have prior art" based on the title.

        Actually, I made my claim based on the abstract:

        A method of logging a first user in to an computing device includes receiving a an image of the first user via a camera operably coupled with the computing device and determining an identity of the first user based on the received image. If the determined identity matches a predetermined identity, then, based at least on the identity of the first user matching the predetermined identity, the first user is logged in to the computing device.

        How is this notably different than a child determining whether or not to open the door after looking to see who it is? What is so unique about a computer that makes this worthy of a patent? Because their claims include using some (unspecified) facial recognition technique that looks at facial features? (isn't that an obvious part of facial recognition)? Because they fall back on normal password authentication if facial recognition doesn't match a face? Because

        • I have prior art that dates back nearly 40 years.

          When I was a kid, my mom taught me that if I don't recognize the face when I look out the door peephole, don't unlock the door.

          I'm pretty sure your mom didn't teach you to provide a prompt to the person at the door who could then answer yes, and you'd let them in. Sometimes it helps to actually follow the link in the article and read the claims, rather than just immediately crying "I have prior art" based on the title.

          Actually, I made my claim based on the abstract:

          Ah, gotcha. The abstract has no legal weight. It's just there to make quick searches of patents easier. You have to look at the claims which require that prompting step.

    • Re:I have prior art (Score:4, Interesting)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:27PM (#41239017)

      Why is anything that has an obvious physical analog even patentable just because it's implemented on a computer?

      You misunderstand patents; It's not what the apparatus does that's patentable, it's how it does it. There are a few other conditions as well; However it goes about its business has to be in a non-trivial, non-obvious fashion. In other words, if it took 20 electrical engineers to build the device, if I take 20 electrical engineers and tell them what the device does, they shouldn't come back with a nearly identical device; If they do, then no matter how complex it is, it shouldn't be patentable.

      At least, that's the theory. In practice... Patents in the United States and most other countries are simply rubber-stamped and then the validity of the patent is contested in costly legal battles.

      • You misunderstand patents;

        No, he understands correctly. The patent is "unlock a computer using facial recognition". It does not describe a system of face recognition or a computer security model. It smiply says that you can plug these things together.

        • by Wovel (964431)

          Correct. This patent does not specify a method of recognition. It is a basic "with a computer","with a mobile device" patent.

        • No, he understands correctly. The patent is "unlock a computer using facial recognition". It does not describe a system of face recognition or a computer security model. It smiply says that you can plug these things together.

          The 17,000 word filing [uspto.gov] indicates otherwise. It does describe a security model, and I quote "If the determined identity match does not match a predetermined identity, then requiring the first user to enter first alphanumeric information that matches first predetermined alphanumeric information as a condition for logging the first user on to the computing device. Then, if the determined identity match does match a predetermined identity, one or more gestures in a touch sensitive area of a computing device can

          • The 17,000 word filing indicates otherwise.

            Really? There's a post above where I analysed the entire patent filing.

            It does describe a security model, and I quote...

            That describes a username/password to log in, or a username followed by some other authentication method (e.g. swipes).

            Plenty of systems with a variety of security models (e.g. Windows with what ever it does or Linux+PAM). It doesn't describe any kind of model. It just says to fallback to a username/password (already in existence) or username/ot

  • "So suck it." ...?
  • Eye for an eye. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by metrometro (1092237) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:10PM (#41238815)

    Lemme see if I get this: Google has a patent on face recognition to access a device, but Apple is seeking a patent on face recognition to do anything useful on the device. Both of which are for concepts that are so obvious I can understand it without RTFA.

    So we either have a de facto OS monopoly (via interlocking licensing), or no product at all. Innovation!

  • Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @04:13PM (#41238855)

    My Asus M50vm had that ability, back in '08, '09, one of those years.

    It sucked, of course, but "working commercially-available implementation" should be hell of prior art.

  • So if I don't shave my face for a few days, I can't log in?

    • That's nothing. I have a beard, and my dog can log into my computer!

    • So if I don't shave my face for a few days, I can't log in?

      No see, because they specified that you can provide your username and password in that case.

      Clearly that's not obvious^W^Wnot implemented before^W^W^Wpatentable.

  • I will not dispute that biometrics shall play an enormous role in our future; however, I fear more someone stealing my face (or entire head) than my password or other un-appended credentials. I'm just not up for reconstructive surgery every time a hacker gets overly determined. So, I may just continue using pass'words' until a sense of well-being becomes part of the facial authentication protocol. I can imagine things getting kind of spooky in places like Liberia, especially if a particular face is in high
    • by mjr167 (2477430)
      When my husband worked at a nuclear power plant they used biometrics and a pin number. In addition to their regular pin, everyone had a "duress" pin. The thoery was if you were being forced to open the door you would enter the duress pin and the door would open, but also notify security.
    • We've had finger/palm/retinal scanners for a while now. I haven't heard of any rash of theft. That said what's to stop someone from taking your photo and holding it up to the device?
  • but I have worked in intellectual property for quite some time, and have seen many patents on both facial recognition and using biometrics to authenticate computer sessions. I would be really curious to see the paperwork with the USPTO from filing to allowance – I have a hard time believing that this isn't something that a person of ordinary skill in the art could arrive at by combining some sort of existing facial recognition technique with an existing biometric authentication technique, so it woul

  • Google Awarded Face-To-Unlock Patent

    How does it deal with ugly people?

  • My Windows 7 laptop has face recognition login capability which it's had since I bought it. Not that I've used it, I find it faster to type in a passphrase before the thing even gets as far as a login screen.

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