MWC 2019

LG G8 FaceSafe, An Unprecedented Face Recognition For An Android Phone

LG got smarter with their security measures this year. The LG G8 ThinQ marked a premiere, becoming the first Android phone with a 3D face recognition solution that works with a front-facing time of flight camera, the depth-sensing technology that is making the rounds this year.
What does this mean for the LG G8 user? Where are we likely to see FaceSafe next?

FotoNation‘s FaceSafe solution is behind LG’s face recognition magic so we  met Greg DeCamp, FaceSafe Product Manager, to get those answers.

Right off the bat, Greg described FaceSafe as a “very simple, very seamless solution” and we couldn’t argue with him. After trying LG’s Face Unlock during MWC Barcelona, we can definitely say authentication is a breeze and doesn’t require anything more than rolling your head so the sensor and software can capture the depth of your features, of the background, and all the angles that make you, you.

What goes behind the hood, though? Well, Fotonation’s solution takes advantage of the extremely detailed and accurate depth map captured by the ToF sensor provided by PMD Technologies.

It then enrolls your face, storing it as secured key data, not as a 3D picture or scan as you might assume. The entire process happens on the device, instead of the cloud, for security reasons.

When you try to unlock a device using FaceSafe – in this case the LG G8 ThinQ -, the software “uses the 3D modality and looks at textures and liveness” to match the data registered. It should recognize you even when your face is partially occluded (by glasses, hats, etc.)

“Offers robust protection against 3 types of spoofing: print, video replay, mask or 3D mask”

That level of precision has been achieved by training the software with neural networks, Greg explained. FotoNation has used an extensive database of images as part of the training so it makes sense that their 3D face recognition solution isn’t just capable of a low false acceptance rate (FAR) and low single-digit false recognition rate (FRR) but it also optimizes the process to suit mobile needs. After all, we want the best mobile security out there, but not at the expense of our processor and battery, right?

Speaking about security, Greg was quick to reassure us that FaceSafe had “robust protection against 3 types of spoofing: print, video replay, mask or 3D mask.” It seems that LG G8 ThinQ is not going to leave room for 3D attacks like other Android phones did in the past.

Rest assured, you won’t have to own an LG G8 or an Android phone with ToF tech to benefit from FotoNation’s 3D face recognition solution in the future. “This phone uses a PMD sensor for time of flight technology but as far as FaceSafe is concerned, it is developed to be agnostic to the modality”, DeCamp told us. This means that FaceSafe could be deployed on any phone, regardless of its 3D system type (structured light or time-of-flight).

Could Apple’s next iPhones employ FaceSafe? Greg didn’t say, but since FaceSafe can be used with structured light (Apple’s chosen depth-sensing method), I wouldn’t be surprised. Conversely, Apple’s next phones might embrace time of flight, according to Bloomberg.

“FaceSafe is agnostic to the 3D modality”

Other than unlocking your phone, we’re likely to see FaceSafe used for secure payments. There are definitely different restriction levels the device manufacturer can play with, said Greg: “[…] for financial-grade transactions you can do things like eye detection – [users] would have to look straight on.”

Will the solution be restricted to mobile devices? I’d be surprised if it did. With autonomous vehicles on the rise, FaceSafe and face recognition solutions similar to it could be used to unlock the cars of the future and then register different drivers, each with their own profile. Imagine having one car per family, but up to five different mobile offices on wheels –wouldn’t that be something?

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