Just as facial recognition technology started to take off in buildings, a global pandemic came along that had everyone covering their faces. Efficacy concerns combined with privacy concerns to put the brakes on the rollout of facial recognition technology with major players like Amazon, Microsoft, and others announcing stepbacks. Apple is back on track, testing technology that can recognize faces through masks. Apple’s updated tech uses visible parts of the face to identify users with FaceID without the need to remove their mask in public. Apple is developing the technology to ensure the convenience of FaceID on mobile devices is maintained but applications go beyond unlocking your phone.
Not only does the new method of facial recognition work with masks, but since it requires fewer features to identify users, each instance requires less biometric information, protecting privacy. The feature, which must be toggled on in the settings of the iOS 15.4 update, is still in beta. Access control applications of Apple’s updated technology might still be far-off, the method requires comparing stored pictures of the mobile user’s device with biometric readings when unlocked. But, simply showing it’s possible could be a game-changer for the stalled industry. If Apple can solve efficacy problems facial recognition critics may soon be back to quibbling about privacy instead of practically.