Using your face as a password to unlock your smartphone has become a lot easier. All you have to do is look at the phone’s front-facing sensor/camera to let it identify your face and instantly unlock the screen.
Google rolled out its face unlocking feature in Android 4.0 in 2011 but it didn’t click as the process was slow and inconsistent. The interest in face unlocking was revived in March 2017, with the launch of Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. But it was the Face ID in Apple iPhone X, launched in September 2017, which has made face one of the most coveted unlocking tool in modern-day smartphones.
How it works
Apple’s Face ID is powered by a True Depth camera system, which analyses 30,000 invisible dots on the user’s face to create a unique 3D model that is saved in an encrypted enclave on the phone’s chip. When a user wants to unlock the iPhone X, the infrared (IR) camera will read the dot pattern and capture an infrared image and send it to the secure enclave for verification. Apple even allows the face ID to be used for authentication during payments.
Unlike the iPhone X, phones from companies like LG, Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and OnePlus rely only on the front camera and some facial recognition algorithms for authentication. OnePlus 5t and 6 use the front camera to analyse over 100 identifiers on a user’s face such as the distance between the eyes or distance between nose and upper lip and then compare it to the face enrolled by user for authentication.
According to Kaspersky Labs, “an inexpensive phone’s facial recognition relies on just the front-facing camera and some not-so-advanced algorithms. But a regular 2D camera without an IR sensor or dot projector can be easily fooled by photos snagged from a social media profile and printed on paper or shown on a screen.”
Companies manufacturing Android smartphones have acknowledged that face unlocking is not as secure as a fingerprint sensor or typing a password. Samsung S9 runs a disclaimer that “face recognition is less secure than other screen lock methods such as iris scan, pattern, PIN and password. Your phone can be unlocked by someone who looks similar to you, such as a twin.” Xiaomi offers a similar disclaimer on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. OnePlus, too, does not see its face unlocking as an alternative to fingerprint and considers it more of a convenience tool. It doesn’t allow the face feature to be used for authentication for payments.
Dealing with the issue
Vivo recently updated its face unlock tool to make it more secure. Samsung has combined the less secure facial recognition tool with iris scanning to offer a two-layer protection to users. OnePlus CEO Pete Lau said in a blog post in November that the OnePlus phones would get an update to help them understand whether the subject is emitting light (a phone) versus reflecting (your actual face) by analyzing shadows, and bright areas.
“After five unsuccessful attempts, Face Unlock is deactivated, requiring you to use the fingerprint sensor,” it reads. Huawei is said to be working on a 3D face mapping tool, similar to Apple’s Face ID.
Since users have consented to using a weak authentication factor, there is no way they can hold the phone firm liable because it also provides more secure options such as a pass phrase or pass pattern, says Sunil Abraham, executive director at the Centre for Internet and Society. Users can exercise caution and use the other password options till more secure versions are available.
Nike Adapt Self-Lacing Smart Sneaker Will Require Regular Charging
Nike has found a new way to capture more information about its customers: through their sneakers.
At an event called the “Future of Footwear,” Nike unveiled a new shoe concept, called Nike Adapt, that tracks performance in real time, allowing the company to give weekend warriors athletic tips and also sell them more products.
“It’s the start of a new day,” said Michael Donaghu, Nike’s director of global footwear innovation. “It’s like we’re moving from footwear to firmwear.”
The shoes, with their data-tracking capability, present customers with a choice about privacy — if they opt not to share their data, they’ll miss out on a lot of the product’s capabilities. The company is starting with basketball shoes, which will sell for $350 (roughly Rs. 25,000).
The shoe self-tightens to an athlete’s preference – there are no laces – and is adjustable via an app. The products carry sensors, accelerometers and gyroscopes that can give Nike a full, personalized snapshot of its owner’s performance. They’ll need recharging every two weeks.
“It’s like having two smartphones strapped to your two feet,” said Michael Martin, Nike’s global head of digital products.
CEO Mark Parker discussed the new shoes in vague terms in December, calling it a “major step” in taking Nike’s new digital emphasis and embedding it into actual product.
Nike stores are also going digital. The company calls new flagship locations unveiled two months ago in New York and Shanghai “Houses of Innovation.” They blend online shopping with the in-person experience. To get the full experience, you essentially have to download the Nike app.
Nike is in the midst of a digital transformation. A large part of that is trying to get more of its customers to become members of the NikePlus loyalty program. The company has found members spend three times more than nonmembers when they shop at Nike.com.
Though Nike has seen rapid growth in apparel sales, shoes still accounted for 61 percent of the company’s $36.4 billion in revenue last fiscal year.
Nike auto-lacing shoes have been around since 2017, when the company sold a limited number of low-top sneakers for $720, the most expensive shoes it ever released.
These shoes will be available through Nike’s direct channels, and through retailers, and will debut in the NBA on the feet of Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum later this week.
The shoe’s technology is can be updated through the app, meaning its capabilities can change after it’s purchased. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company plans to release more products with the Adapt technology, including running shoes, sportswear and lifestyle items.
“The advantages we’re looking to provide the athlete are so substantial that you’ll see a mass of people wanting to make use of those benefits,” Martin said.
Microsoft Says Will Set Up 10 AI Labs, Train 5 Lakh Youth in India
Microsoft India to set up Artificial Intelligence (AI) labs in 10 universities and train five lakh youth across the country in disrupting technologies.
The company also said it will upskill over 10,000 developers over the next three years.
“We believe AI will enable Indian businesses and more for India’s progress, especially in education, skilling, healthcare and agriculture,” said Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India.
Microsoft AI today is fuelling digital transformation for over 700 customers and 60 per cent customers are large manufacturing and financial services enterprises.
Over 700 partners have geared up to support the AI ecosystem, said the company.
Microsoft in December announced a three-year “Intelligent Cloud Hub” collaborative programme in India, for empowering institutes to skill students in AI and Cloud technologies.
India is one of the first countries to have such a programme in which Microsoft will support selected institutes that have the best-in-class infrastructure, curriculum and content, onsite training for faculty and students, access for participating students to Cloud and AI services, developmental tools and developer support.
In April 2018, the company announced the Microsoft Professional Programme (MPP) for the public.
This programme is helping in providing job-ready skills along with real-world experience to engineers as well as others who plan on improving their skills in AI and data science, using a series of online courses.
“Microsoft also believes that it is imperative to build higher awareness and capabilities on security, privacy, trust and accountability,” said Maheshwari.
TP-Link Launches New Wi-Fi 6 Routers at CES 2019 With Something at Every Price Point
TP-Link has announced five new next-generation wireless products at CES 2019. All these routers are based on Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with prices ranges from the affordable entry-level routers to expensive wireless routers meant for gaming. In December last year, TP-Link had introduced its first two Wi-Fi 6 routers based on Broadcom platforms. With its latest announcement at CES 2019, the company seems keen on bringing more Wi-Fi 6 products for everyone.
The new TP Link Deco X10 is a mesh networking-based wireless router. It comes in a pack of two (one main unit and a satellite), priced at $349.99 (roughly Rs. 24,340). It offers a wireless bandwidth of up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1,200Mbps on the 5GHz band.
The company has also announced a new Archer AX11000 gaming wireless router. It is a tri-band wireless router capable of a maximum wireless throughput of up to 4,804Mbps on the 5GHz bands and up to 1,148Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. TP-Link had added USB Type-C and USB Type-A ports to enable storage sharing across the network. The router will sell at $449.99 (roughly Rs. 31,300) and will be available later this month.
TP-Link’s new Archer AX6000 is a dual-band wireless router that offers features similar to the Archer AX11000 and is shipping right away. It includes a 2.5Gbps WAN port so in case you have a high-speed broadband connection, but you don’t play games, this might be the right router for you as it costs $100 (roughly Rs. 6,954) less than the Archer AX11000.
The basic TP-Link Archer AX1800 brings Wi-Fi 6 at an affordable price point. The Archer AX1800 is a dual-band wireless router which comes with a Gigabit WAN port and a USB 2.0 port to share data across the network. The router is priced at $129.99 (roughly Rs. 9,040). It will be available later this year.
TP-Link has also announced a new wireless range extender at CES 2019. The RE705X Wi-Fi range extender is a dual-band repeater which is priced at $99.99 (roughly Rs. 6,953). It will ship in the third quarter of 2019.