Android ICS Face Unlock: foiled by a photo?

Android ICS Face Unlock: foiled by a photo?Our first impression of the new Face Unlock feature in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich – which lets you unlock your Android device by letting the camera scan your face – was that it sounds cool, but you'll probably seldom use it.

And that opinion certainly hasn't changed now that Google has come out and admitted that it can't tell the difference between the real you and a photo of your face.

We don't blame Google for trying to make a big deal about Face Unlock – after all, it's the kind of feature that gets plenty of oohs and ahs when you show it off for the first time. Or at least, it does when it works. Google's Matias Duarte attempted to show it off at the Ice Cream Sandwich through the week, and it didn't work.

We were happy to write that off to either a random glitch or atypical lighting conditions at the time, but far more concerning is Google's admission that as a security measure it's still very much in its infancy, and in fact the feature could be sidestepped using a photograph of a registered user's face.

The search giant conceded after a query from Slashgear that using a photo to fool the facial recognition system “might work”, but promised that Face Unlock “will only get better”.

Given what we've seen so far, we'd substitute “will” for “can”.

Read more about: Android

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2 comments

Stelph  Oct. 22, 2011 at 06:43

Along a similar note I saw today that the iPad 2 locksxreen and password can be bypassed by using a smartcover! One of the disadvantages of using an "instant access" device like a smartphone/tablet is always going to be issues like the I recon

JanSt / MOD  Oct. 24, 2011 at 11:34

I had a Toshiba laptop for a while that lets you log on with your mug. I hated it. On a PC with Adobe's flash plugins, I'd rather stick DuckTape on the webcam, than use it for 'secure login'...

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