iPhone 8’s ‘revolutionary’ FaceTime camera to bring facial recognition

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iPhone 8 facial recognition
You'll be able to unlock your iPhone simply by looking at it.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

This year’s iPhone 8 will offer a “revolutionary” FaceTime camera that will be capable of facial recognition and iris scanning, according to one reliable analyst.

Apple is expected to do away with the handset’s physical Home button and Touch ID in favor of a larger display and a mini Touch Bar. Facial recognition could well become the new method of unlocking your iPhone and securing your apps.

Apple reportedly snaps up Israeli facial-recognition company

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iPhone 8 facial recognition
How facial recognition could work on a future iPhone.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has reportedly acquired RealFace, an Israeli startup that developed facial-recognition technology for user authentication.

The news comes shortly after a separate report claiming that Apple is planning to incorporate new biometric security systems into future iPhones starting in 2018.

iPhone 8 may pack frickin’ lasers for facial recognition

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Does your iPhone feel faster with iOS 10.3?
Lasers could be the iPhone's next big feature.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s next iPhone may come with new facial recognition technology and actual friggin’ laser beams, according to an analyst.

By adding lasers near the front-facing camera, Apple will be able to depth-map objects, according to analysts at Cowen and Company. The camera could also be used for image recognition, enhancing security and fueling augmented reality.

Apple’s 3-D mapping tech would turn your iMac into an Xbox Kinect

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Mouse, what mouse?
Photo: USPTO/Apple

New technology dreamed up by Apple would allow users to control an interface by simply striking a pose. This would work by having Apple devices generate a depth map for identifying “a head and at least one arm of the humanoid form” from any image in which one appears.

A way to switch on our next Apple TV by waving a hand or turning your head toward the screen? Yes please!

New patent hints at hands-free gaming on Apple TV

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Forget joysticks, this could be the future of gaming.
Forget joysticks, this could be the future of gaming.
Photo: Apple/USPTO

There have been plenty of rumors about the refreshed Apple TV set to arrive at WWDC, but two of the biggest concern the fact that it will feature a revolutionary gesture-based user interface and a new focus on gaming.

Possibly tying into that is a newly-published patent from Apple, which describes a pattern projector which would use laser beams to map the 3D space between the device and a user — thereby allowing a person to carry out motions as a way of interacting with specific apps.

And, yes, that includes games.

Apple’s new gesture tech could bring Star Wars-style Force controls to Mac

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These may not be the droids you're looking for, but it could be the patent you want. Photo:
These may not be the droids you're looking for, but it could be the patent you want. Photo: Lucasfilm

Apple may have already used the name “Force Touch” for its touch-sensitive tech, but if you’re a sci-fi fan who’s ever dreamed of wielding The Force to control your Mac with an Obi Wan-like sweep of the hand, you could be in luck.

Apple today published a patent for a technology which describes in-air 3D gesturing which allows it to accurately establish not only where a user’s hand might be, but also what it is doing. As such, it opens up the possibility of creating detailed hand poses for triggering different actions.

Throwing up a pair of hand horns to get AC/DC blaring out on iTunes? Yes please.

How Google Swiped Apple’s Hot New PrimeSense 3-D Tech For Project Tango

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In November 2013, Apple acquired PrimeSense, a 3-D technology sensing company that could hint at the ability for future iPhones, iPads and Macs to have a Kinect-like ability to sense where users are and react to their movements.

Given the acquisition, you’d think Apple would be the first company to use one of PrimeSense’s hot 3-D imaging systems-on-a-chip, maybe in the iPhone 6, but no. Google has beaten Apple to the punch, using PrimeSense’s Capri PS1200 3-D imaging SoC in the experimental Project Tango device, the world’s first motion-sensing smartphone.

Apple Spent More Than Half A Billion Dollars On Acquisitions Last Quarter

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Apple suppliers are enjoying huge revenue boosts thanks to the iPhone 6
Apple suppliers are enjoying huge revenue boosts thanks to the iPhone 6

Having recently purchased both Nest and AI startup DeepMind, Google is currently on a high tech spending spree. Even Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson has claimed that the search giant’s recent acquisitions have helped it take the lead over Apple when it comes to innovation in 2014.

But Apple is also putting its $159 billion worth of cash and investments to good use by carrying out its fair share of acquisitions.

What Apple’s Massive 2013 Buying Spree Means For The Future [Year In Review]

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Apple may as well run Cupertino. Photo: Benjamin Feenstra
Apple may as well run Cupertino. Photo: Benjamin Feenstra

It was widely reported in January that Apple was in talks to buy Waze, an Israeli startup with a hugely popular maps app. Waze was rumored to be asking Apple for $750 million. The same outlet that broke the acquisition rumor quickly backpedaled and said no such deal was taking place. Google ended up buying Waze in June for $1 billion.

And so goes the buyout game in Silicon Valley, a power play where tech giants like Apple and Google court hot startups with the hopes of adding them to their war chests.

Apple had its biggest year ever for acquisitions in 2013, with a record 15 smaller companies joining the fold. A dozen of them have now been publicly disclosed.

For an entity as secretive as Apple, examining the companies it buys is one of the only ways to peek into its future plans. When AuthenTec, a company that specialized in fingerprint readers and identification software, was purchased in July 2012, speculation immediately followed. What did Apple want with fingerprint sensors? The answer ended up being obvious, and the technology debuted in Touch ID in September 2013.

Often the outcome of an Apple acquisition isn’t so immediately apparent.

Historically, Apple acquires far fewer companies than its competitors. But the line is starting to blur. Google publicly bought three times as many companies as Apple in 2012 and not even twice as many in 2013. Apple bought more companies than Microsoft in 2013.

So what does all of this say about Apple’s future?

Apple To Use PrimeSense Tech For Indoor Mapping?

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iOS 7 could soon have many of the capabilities of the Xbox 360 Kinect.
iOS 7 could soon have many of the capabilities of the Xbox 360 Kinect.

It’s the third most asked question next to “did I make the right choice of next generation iPad?” and “why is it so cold at the moment?” (I’m writing this post from England) — but what exactly does Apple plan to do with PrimeSense?

Having acquired the Israel-based 3D-motion tracking company behind the original Xbox Kinect for an estimated $360 million, most people assumed that Apple would use the technology to incorporate motion tech into its long-awaited television-based hardware.

According to Washington Post tech journalist Jessica Lessin, however, that’s not right at all.