Facial detection is a big emerging technology in the smartphone space and Microsoft Research Asia is working on staying at the cutting edge. Microsoft scientists released a software development kit this week that includes several of Microsoft’s latest face detection algorithms, including a face detection system that “tries to detect every face that appears in an image” and “identifies the face position of individuals pictured in the image” — a face alignment feature that can locate the individual elements of each face, including the eyes, mouth and nose; and, most intriguingly, a face tracking feature that can find individual faces during live video streams and thus let users “use head movement to interact with a Windows Phone.” More →
Apple patent documentation made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicates that the Cupertino-based company is exploring different ways to utilize the forward-facing camera on its devices. The patent, which was uncovered by AppleInsider, describes a system that could scan and detect a user’s face to unlock a device. If the user cannot be identified by the system, he or she would by asked to enter a security code, much like Google’s face unlock technology. Apple isn’t looking to use face detection to simply unlock a user’s device, however. After a user’s face is recognized, the software could be used to set pre-determined settings and launch various applications. “If the detected human face is recognized… an operation of the (device) can be modified based upon the recognized human face,” the patent application reads. “The modification can include executing a pre-defined set of operations such as opening email, opening text messages, and so forth.” More →
The United States Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application related to face and presence detection that could be used to help keep iOS devices secure. Patently Apple said the company’s application describes a technology that could allow a user to unlock his or her device by simply looking at it. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) already features face detection, but it can easily be tricked according to reports, and doesn’t always work. Apple’s solution details a way to analyze a user’s mouth, the tip of a nose and eyes, and the distances between each of those facial features to determine whether or not a person is is the owner of the iOS device. The reliance on 2D facial feature locations might mean Apple’s solution will be vulnerable to the same flaw that allows anyone to access a locked Android 4.0 device using a photo of a face, instead of a real face, but we won’t know if that’s a real issue until the technology is implemented. The patent also describes support for multiple users, though it is unclear when, if ever, Apple will implement this technology in its iOS platform. More →
Facebook made tagging and sharing photos easier with its new face detection algorithm, a nifty little feature Facebook acquired when it purchased Divvyshot back in April. No more clicking on photos to select the faces of your friends as the new face detection feature will scan your uploaded photos and automatically select the faces in the photo. Once selected, Facebook will prompt you to tag the photo with the names of your friends. Though it is somewhat rudimentary in its current form, Facebook promises that improvements are coming down the pipeline. Any Facebookers out there excited by the prospect of click-free photo tagging? More →
Samsung doesn’t have much in the way of sneak peeks at CES, but we did manage to catch a glimpse of two international handsets. First is the Omnia Pro or Samsung B7610. The Omnia Pro doesn’t look too much like its cousin, the Omnia II, and it features a slide out QWERTY keyboard. It’s also a Windows 6.5 device that has a front-facing camera for video chat. Unfortunately, the only carrier in the U.S. that supports video chat of any kind is AT&T and it’s only one-way video chatting. We’re also looking at a 5 megapixel camera, 800MHz processor, Wi-Fi, A-GPS, push email support and a 3.5″ AMOLED WVGA display. Click on through for the Jet and for the rest of the flicks in our gallery.
About 50 rungs further down the innovation ladder, some new Apple patent applications revealed this morning are definitely less interesting and complex than the few we covered last week. In fact, considering some of the technology has already existed for quite some time we’re not even sure why Apple is attempting to patent a few of these things. In any case however, it’s never a bad idea to stop and take a look at where the iPhone and iPhone OS may be headed in the future so let’s start at the top. The drawing above depicts an object identification interface that would allow the iPhone to recognize and deliver information about an object as a result of analyzing a photo/image or by scanning a bar code/RFID tag. Novel? Definitely not. Useful? Probably. Hit the jump for more.
Having long since been given the green light for sale in the US by the FCC, Sony Ericsson announced today that the unlocked W995a Walkman will go on sale July 6th at Sony Style locations across the US. Identical to the W995 Walkman in every way save for the inclusion of a tri-band UMTS/HSPA (850/1800/1900MHz) radio, the W995a is the type of device that we’d like to see SE continue to push out alongside smartphones like the Satio. Here’s why: a 2.6-inch QVGA display, 8.1 megapixel camera with auto focus, image stabilization and face detection, video calling, Wi-Fi, aGPS, FM radio with RDS, Media Go, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support and a 3.5mm headphone jack can all be yours, unlocked, for around $600. Pretty appealing, is it not?