Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro brings facial recognition after Apple’s Face ID success

The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, Google’s latest Pixel phones, saw the return of facial recognition on Thursday after a brief hiatus due to cost and performance challenges, according to a new report. three former Alphabet employees are knowledgeable about these efforts. The feature on the new Pixel 7 isn’t as good as Apple’s Face ID unlocking mechanism, as it can struggle in low light and is more prone to spoofing. Additionally, Google says it’s not secure enough to allow sign-in to apps or payments.

The return comes later Google becoming more demanding in launching products with facial recognition, partly due to questions about its effectiveness on darker skin. The company has been taking time to review its approach to facial recognition training and testing since last time Pixels with a possible launch in 2019, one of the sources said.

Google declined to comment on specific questions about its history with face unlock. It says, “Thanks to advanced machine learning models for facial recognition, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro there’s Face Unlock, but we’re doing it a little differently. “It added, ‘We get good face accuracy performance with the front-facing camera. “

Pursue Google’s face unlock for Android smartphones last at least a decade, but it comes under greater pressure when Apple release Face ID in September 2017, sources said.

At the time, Google struggled to create a system that both worked quickly and couldn’t be tampered with, or used surreal photos or costumes to trick other people’s phones into unlocking, one of the sources said. news said. Engineers joked with asking for a smile or a blink – to demonstrate a person’s “viability” – to combat spoofing but it was clumsy and slow, the source said.

Another source noted that following the arrival of Apple’s Face ID, which uses a depth-sensing and infrared camera called TrueDepth to map faces, Google executives signed a contract with a equivalent technology. By Google Pixel 4released in 2019, called the uDepth infrared depth sensor setup.

It works well, even in dark conditions, with no more than a 1 in 50,000 chance of unlocking the phone with an unauthorized face, according to Google.

But the equipment is expensive. And while Apple sells 240 million iPhones a year, Google comes out on top with several million, making it impossible for them to buy components at the volume discount Apple makes.

Google dropped uDepth in Pixel 5 sources said in 2020 due to costs.

Face covering due to the pandemic gave Google a reason to exclude the feature from last year Pixel 6 and additional research time, two sources said.

Face unlock on the new phone is based on a regular front camera. But unlike the previous system, it can’t securely unlock apps and make payments because Google says the chances of spoofing – such as by holding a user’s photo – are greater than 20%, above the 7% threshold it requires to be considered the most “safe”.

Google says low light and sunglasses can also cause problems, noting that fingerprint unlock is still an alternative.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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