Face ID is a facial recognition and authentication technology developed by Apple. It was announced on September 12, 2017, in conjunction with the iPhone X, which will be the first device equipped with the technology.
Face ID allows a user to unlock their own iPhone, or make Apple Pay transactions, merely by looking at the phone's front-facing TrueDepth camera. It replaces Touch ID, which identifies an iPhone user by reading a fingerprint.
How Face ID works
The iPhone X's TrueDepth camera uses three new components to accomplish face recognition:
- The Flood Illuminator uses infrared light to invisibly illuminate the user's face, even in low-light situations.
- The Dot Projector projects over 30,000 individual dots of focused infrared light onto the user's face.
- The Infrared Camera reads the combined data of the Flood Illuminator and Dot Projector.
Information photographed by the Infrared Camera is sent to the Secure Enclave in the iPhone X's A11 "Bionic" CPU. The processor's Neural Engine uses machine learning to identify the user's face, even if the user is wearing a hat or glasses, grows facial hair, or otherwise changes their hairstyle.
Also, the iPhone X is attention-aware, meaning that it can tell if the user is looking directly at the phone, or looking at something else nearby.
Security improvements over Touch ID
Compared to Touch ID, which has an estimated 1 in 50,000 chance of incorrectly identifying the user, Face ID lowers that chance to about 1 in 1,000,000. If the user has an identical twin, however, that chance rises somewhat.