We looked at the technology that could make Face ID obsolete for years to come

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The first smartphone with facial recognition with skin detection should hit the market in 2024. We were able to discover this technology at MWC 2023. Specifically, it promises to be very reliable, gradually accompanying the disappearance of notches and pills on phone screens . .

Without skin detection, a mask can fool facial recognition // Source: Robin Wycke – Frandroid

Same reliability as Face ID without having to fill in a notch or a pod on the screen. Roughly in these terms we could very roughly summarize the promise of a technology that we could see in operation during MWC 2023. This has the potential to disrupt facial recognition in smartphones from 2024.

In fact, the German company Trinamix is ​​demonstrating its solution capable of accurately identifying human skin. Thus, it knows how to distinguish one person from another, avoiding being fooled by a photo or even a very realistic 3D mask. We have already been able to see their applications in the context of a “Face ID” for the car. However, in the near future, it is first of all the smartphone that will benefit from it.

2024, a pivotal year for facial recognition?

Therefore, two interesting facts should be noted:

  • a smartphone will be equipped with this skin-detecting facial recognition solution from 2024 (but Trinamix kept the manufacturer’s name);
  • the component needed to use this solution is integrated under the smartphone screen, invisible to the naked eye.
The Trinamix component that can be integrated under the smartphone screen and allows the detection of human skin // Source: Robin Wycke – Frandroid

In other words, facial recognition on smartphones should start to see a big change next year. In 2024, we may indeed see how much Trinamix technology is worth in a product that is mature enough to be commercialized, but that would only be the beginning.

In fact, one of the firm’s representatives confidently assures that thanks to its technology, designs with a notch or pickup should disappear in a few years.

Towards the end of the notches, punch and pickup

It should be remembered that players in the smartphone market are increasingly seeking to camouflage the selfie camera. This is the case of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (on its internal screen) or even an attractive Oppo prototype, to name a few examples.

Oppo’s under-display camera is almost invisible // Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

However, at the moment, it is not possible to offer truly secure facial recognition by hiding the front sensors. Manufacturers must settle for a 2D solution first easy to fool with a photo.

On iPhone, Apple has long maintained a large notch to be able to integrate the necessary sensors for Face ID, its much more secure 3D facial recognition. On the iPhone 14 Pro, the manufacturer has changed the famous notch by a cleverly dressed pickup for Dynamic Island features.

However, the user must deal with a relatively large unused display area. Same story for the recent Honor Magic 5 Pro that also opts for a 3D solution at a wider than average tablet price.

What Trinamix suggests is that eventually it would no longer be necessary to choose between the two. Manufacturers could integrate their front photosensor and the Trinamix component, which is based, among other things, on infrared vision, under the screen. Then they would have smartphones capable of really secure facial recognition without compromising front panel design. The benefits of Apple Face ID, without the drawbacks.

Is it really reliable?

Promises are all well and good, but are Trinamix’s algorithms really as reliable as the company claims? To convince the public – and certainly some investors – the German firm modeled very realistic 3D faces modeled after the faces of the spokespersons present at the stand.

Trinamix demonstrates its facial recognition for cars and smartphones with scary skins // Source: Frandroid

The idea was precisely to show that even with a very faithful replica of the human face, the facial recognition solution could not be fooled. We have seen it ourselves. Without activating the skin detection option, the smartphone made available for the demo gave access to an application to both the real human being and its 3D-designed twin.

By activating or deactivating the skin detection option, the facial recognition of this smartphone does not have the same level of security // Source: Frandroid

However, by turning on the said feature, the app is never fooled. It systematically refuses to validate access to the mask and does not fail to authenticate the truly human face of our interlocutor.

With skin detection enabled, a mask can no longer fool facial recognition, only one of Trinamix’s representatives can unlock the app with their real face

The demo is very impressive, but these promising performances will obviously need to be confirmed in the finished product. It remains to be seen if the equipped smartphone planned for 2024 will launch in France or if it will remain confined to one or a few particular markets.

Our journalist Omar Belkaab is in Barcelona to cover MWC 2023 in its entirety, but is present as part of a press trip organized by Honor.

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