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Google Security

Google Patents Frowns and Winks To Unlock Your Phone 89

Posted by timothy
from the your-tic-is-your-password dept.
Excelcia writes "Users could soon be asked to pull a series of faces to unlock their Android phones or tablets. Google has filed a patent suggesting users stick out their tongue or wrinkle their nose in place of a password. Requiring specific gestures could prevent the existing Face Unlock facility being fooled by photos. The software could monitor if there were changes in the angle of the person's face to ensure the device was not being shown a still image with a fake gesture animated on top."
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Google Patents Frowns and Winks To Unlock Your Phone

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  • by Hsien-Ko (1090623) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:52PM (#43928341)
    ......for Botox users.
  • by AndroSyn (89960) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:52PM (#43928345) Homepage

    Why wouldn't you just be able to play a video back to it of the subject making the required facial expression?

    • Easier to take a static photo of someone with a good optical zoom than to film them while they're doing the facial expression in question.

      • by Ken_g6 (775014)

        Easier to take a static photo of someone with a good optical zoom than to film them while they're doing the facial expression in question.

        Kai Power Goo FTW! (Or FTL, depending on your POV.)

        • Kai Power Goo?
          I thought Kai was armed with nothing more than a hatchet... You're telling me he has Power Goo now too?
          God help us all...
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Easier to take a static photo of someone with a good optical zoom than to film them while they're doing the facial expression in question.

        The easy way to film someone's unlock gesture would be swap their phone with one that looks just like theirs, and have the decoy phone record them when they do the unlock gesture to unlock it. The decoy phone can prompt the user with several fake authentication attempts to get them to cycle through several different expressions and build up a library of the appropriate expressions to play back. A 3D camera on the phone would make this much harder (but not impossible since you could record in 3D and rig so

        • There's already an option to require a blink during authentication so that photo's won't work. Your wife should probably enable that.

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            There's already an option to require a blink during authentication so that photo's won't work. Your wife should probably enable that.

            That sounds only moderately more secure, so instead of a static picture of her, I'd just need a video of her blinking, perhaps with my finger poised on the "play" button so I can make it blink when the phone asks for it.

            Plus, I think her phone is still on ICS, so she doesn't have the liveness check option.

            • Face unlock and slide to unlock are only intended to be moderately secure anyway. It's a trade off, because strong security is inconvenient. That said, photos of people's faces are generally much easier to come by than videos of people staring straight into a camera and blinking.

      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @03:38PM (#43928913) Homepage Journal

        Let's hope nobody completely ruins Google's idea here by creating some kind of device you wear all the time that records everything you're looking at, allowing you to record someone's expression without them thinking twice about it...

        • by AJH16 (940784)

          That's ok though because they can scan all the video and tell the lock screen not to work if it matches.

    • by jythie (914043)
      Given how glithcy this is likely to be, I am picturing people carrying around little videos of themselves so they can gesture in their password. Yes, we have come full circle to dongle authentication again....
  • :( *sadface* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nitehawk214 (222219) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:54PM (#43928363)

    This is me frowning at your use of stupid patents.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      A mushroom stamp to unlock... On The Internets!

      [ Patent Approved! ]

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The real story here is that Google's face recognition has got good enough to recognize expressions. Actually they revealed that it goes a fair way beyond that at their I/O conference. Picasa will now photoshop an image where everyone is smiling by combining faces from several similar images in your albums, for example.

      This is just one trivial and stupid application that the media likes to latch on to, rather than explain the real innovation. Presumably they think their readers are morons or something.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Please stop doing that. You just called my mother in law on my phone and I had to talk to her for almost 17 seconds.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:55PM (#43928375)

    Grow/Shave facial hair... change your glasses... (what if you switch between contacts and glasses).....

    I have a feeling that the Clowns would frown at this feature... and nobody likes a sad clown.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Grow/Shave facial hair... change your glasses... (what if you switch between contacts and glasses).

      The existing face unlock handles those fine as long as you do additional captures. And if all else fails, there's the pattern/pin/password backup lock it requires you to have.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        The existing face unlock handles those fine as long as you do additional captures.

        And in the real world? Crashed on a mountainbike the other day and had to call the mountain crew for an extraction. Ooops I forgot to do an additional capture with a bad facial cut and blood and sand/gravel embedded on my face. Phone doesn't recognize me. (Yes full face helmet was on... and very likely saved the face, teeth, jaw... but you can still scrape and cut up your face a bit.)

        And if all else fails, there's the pattern

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          The existing face unlock handles those fine as long as you do additional captures.

          And in the real world? Crashed on a mountainbike the other day and had to call the mountain crew for an extraction. Ooops I forgot to do an additional capture with a bad facial cut and blood and sand/gravel embedded on my face. Phone doesn't recognize me. (Yes full face helmet was on... and very likely saved the face, teeth, jaw... but you can still scrape and cut up your face a bit.)

          And if all else fails, there's the pattern/pin/password backup lock it requires you to have.

          Which I won't have committed to memory since I haven't used it since purchasing the phone 11 months ago and setting up facial recognition.

          My phone lets me make an emergency call without unlocking it. I believe there are some apps that allow additional numbers (i.e. Mountain Rescue, your wife, etc) to be set as emergency contacts that can be dialed without unlocking.

          • by nospam007 (722110) *

            "My phone lets me make an emergency call without unlocking it. I believe there are some apps that allow additional numbers (i.e. Mountain Rescue, your wife, etc) to be set as emergency contacts that can be dialed without unlocking."

            Why not let people dial any number in contacts?
            If somebody steals my phone, he can gladly talk to Aunt Nasty as much as he likes, as long as it prevents him from calling anybody _he_ knows.

            He could even call my ICE contact to tell him he's found my phone.

        • by compro01 (777531)

          Which I won't have committed to memory since I haven't used it since purchasing the phone 11 months ago and setting up facial recognition.

          On the upside, presumably facial recognition phones will have a tough time in the dark and other rare scenarios like darkness that it will fail often enough that I'll need to use the pin code often enough to keep it in memory. But then, if it fails half the time ... why bother using it at all. Any time or convenience gained by using it when it works is lost by trying it when it doesn't work. And lets be honest here... making faces at your phone to unlock it is rarely going to be more "convenient" anyway.

          1. It requires you to enter the pattern/pin/password any time you to an additional capture.

          2. Yes, it does fail in darkness, usually because the camera can't pick up anything at all, much less a face. Also fails if you have your back to the sun or such.

          3. I'd say it works about 90% of the time in my experience.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        Grow/Shave facial hair... change your glasses... (what if you switch between contacts and glasses).

        The existing face unlock handles those fine as long as you do additional captures. And if all else fails, there's the pattern/pin/password backup lock it requires you to have.

        I used face unlock for a short, short period on one laptop once.
        why didn't I bother with it? it was faster to open it by typing in the password.. not really because it was a bad recognizer.. it worked pretty well, but just waiting for the webcam to adjust to lighting is two seconds too much.

        the zigzag gestures are faster than using face recognition on a phone..

  • Quick!! I need to patent giving my phone the finger to unlock it!
  • Seriously? (Score:5, Funny)

    by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @03:02PM (#43928453)

    I'm imagining a roomful of Google Glass testers who look like they have Tourrets.

  • Good. (Score:4, Funny)

    by tool462 (677306) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @03:06PM (#43928497)

    Finally a use for patents I can support. This will prevent anybody else from implementing this incredibly stupid idea.

    And on a side note, if Google did get this to work would they be able to have the phone automatically call 911 if you were having a stroke?

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      The emergency call button is always outside of the login window. Pull out your phone and check.
  • suicide. (Score:4, Informative)

    by geekymachoman (1261484) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @03:12PM (#43928585)

    I'm gonna really kill myself if in 5-10, whatever years this becomes reality. Out of embarrassment of watching others do that.

    Imagine it.

  • In many discussions about the problem of facial recognition being used to unlock something, and the weakness to a photo, I have never seen anyone comment about using odd faces or expressions as the unlock. Remember that 'obvious in retrospect' doesn't mean unpatentable. This process is unique and non-obvious in my opinion, as well as being a good idea. It shouldn't be patentable (because software patents = math = unpatentable), but it is at least a good idea.

  • OCD leaves me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Loughla (2531696) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @03:16PM (#43928651)

    with a super awesome facial tic. I am constantly lining the bridge of my nose up with opposite corners of squares when I'm walking around (OR MY FAMILY WILL DIE). So it constantly looks like I'm winking.

    It's been mildly inconvenient so far in life, but apparently now it will be SUPER useful to unlock my phone constantly! Thank you science and technology for making me feel less like a social outcast!

  • Wouldn't a mask with the user's face printed on it work to fool this? All you need is a cutout for the nose and/or tongue.

  • to ignore callers I don't want to talk to.
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday June 06, 2013 @03:19PM (#43928679) Homepage

    Oh, right. Mountain View, California, where the temperature sometimes drops as low as 4 degrees Celsius in the deepest part of Winter.

    Nobody who lived anywhere with actual weather would assume that everybody would want their face uncovered just to use their phone.

    • by Kufat (563166)

      I live in upstate NY and I use face unlock. If I have a scarf on and need to use my phone, I just cancel out of it and punch in my PIN.

      (Also, if I have a scarf on, I probably have gloves on, and therefore probably wouldn't be using my phone at the moment anyway.)

      • by swillden (191260)

        You can get conductive gloves that work with touchscreens. Very handy for Ingress portal hacking in the winter.

  • ...is that the phone will make a picture of your face every time you unlock it this way and sends it to your mom, boss or fiancee at random :)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If just a wink unlocks the phone, what gesture do I need to have it install CyanogenMod?

  • Google patents method of holding your penis while you urinate. PAY UP SUCKERS!
  • Not everyone is physically capable of doing that, which could eliminate some potential thieves right away.
  • by rossdee (243626) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @04:22PM (#43929421)

    Nudge Nudge
    Wink Wink
    Say no more!

  • by Richy_T (111409) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @04:28PM (#43929513) Homepage

    The next release of their OS has been programmed to recognize the facepalm.

  • Kristen Stewart will not be able to get into her phone! Smile? Frown? Look quizzical? Arg!
  • I can't help but picture what it would look like if half the people on a bus/train/plane/name-the-public-place pulled out their phones and unlocked them at the same time...
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      especially with more creative people using alternative portions of their anatomy to authenticate.

      "I was NOT masturbating in the plane seat, merely authenticating"

  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @04:54PM (#43929777) Homepage

    will raise an eye brow...

  • The current facial unlock has me gurning and pulling all sorts of stupid faces at my phone. I turn it of when I'm in polite company in case people think I'm have a seizure.

  • But I don't have a lock on this view.

  • I've been dealing with databases for near 20 years now. From Btrieve to dbase, to MS-SQL, Oracle, Postgres and my fave MySQL. SQL itself has a fairly simple syntax, it's the combinations of data from multiple tables that can get interesting, plus using sub-selects to do data analysis etc.

    As to what accessed those databases it's everything from IIS server to Apache and even MS Access. That first and the latter requires a bit of understanding about database privileges and ODBC. Privileges kick in at the fi
  • Using a set of digits as a password?

  • This can still be fooled with video by using computer generated 3D models of the target face. It could use a video of the person to validate the computer model.

  • But does it recognise handshakes?

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