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Facial Recognition Unlock: An iOS Jailbreak, And Samsung's Photo Block

While perusing a video (shown below) which entices viewers to jailbreak their Apple handheld hardware (and was of interest to me only as a source of potential new apps to install...I've already jailbroken my two iPhone 4s, along with my fourth-generation iPod touch and first-generation iPad), I came across the above still frame and found myself feeling both perplexed and curious. While I already knew that facial recognition-based unlock capabilities were a key added feature in Google's latest Android v4 "Ice Cream Sandwich", and that similar embedded vision attributes hadn't yet been added to Apple's iOS, I wasn't aware that the iOS jailbreak community had unofficially filled this particular feature set hole.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have been surprised, given hackers' longstanding track records of adding and polishing (and sometimes even removing) features to bolster the operating system and sanctioned applications' capabilities...features which Apple often later copies. And in fact, the jailbreak community beat both Apple and Google to the punch, with a program called RecognizeMe that has been available for almost a year already:

I wasn't initially going to bother trying the program, given both its $7 price tag, its slow recognition speed and its sub-par recognition accuracy as reported by Engadget, but a recent upgrade (complete with a notable price cut to $2.99) has me reconsidering my frugality:

Speaking of 'stock' Android 4.0 (or, for that matter, RecognizeMe), they both suffer from the same loophole: the potential for being fooled by a person's photograph as a surrogate for flesh-and-blood reality. Back in mid-December, I postulated that a depth-discerning image sensor subsystem might be necessary to address this shortcoming. But Samsung's come up with much simpler fix; forcing the subject to not only present his or her visage to the front-facing camera but also to blink his or her eyes, as part of the home screen unlock "key". Samsung's clever Android augmentation should work...as long as someone doesn't put a LCD picture frame playing back a video clip (or an animated GIF) in front of the handset, that is!