A new Apple patent is giving more information about iPhone 8’s facial recognition technology. Reuters/Adnan Abidi

An Apple patent application that was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday is shedding light on the facial recognition feature of the upcoming iPhone 8. The technology is going to be one of the authentication features of the iOS 11-running smartphone, so it’s high time that consumers get to know more about how this thing works prior the official launch of the handset this fall.

Patent application 20170199997, titled “Embedded Authentication Systems in an Electronic Device,” explains an invention that’s designed to restrict user access to certain resources of a device unless the user is able to authenticate his or her identity. The verification process involves the use of one or more sensors that detect biometric information of the user without asking the user to do anything such as touching a sensor with a finger.

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The document then details that some embodiments of the invention allow the authentication system to detect a visual or temporal pattern of inputs. When verification is done, the user will be granted access to restricted files, certain applications and the settings of some apps or the device itself. Further distinguishing this technology from the fingerprint scanner, the patent application states that this will be a separate feature since the fingerprint reader will be found elsewhere on the handset.

In the detailed explanation of the invention, it is stated there that the authentication system requires one or more image sensors, one or more processors, a storage program that’s configured to work with the processor/s and a program that does the following: displays instructions on the lock screen of the display, captures image data, detects certain facial attributes of the user, authenticates user based on facial attributes and responds to the verification by unlocking the lock screen.

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To be very specific about it, the different sensors that are needed for the authentication system are visible light image sensors and infrared image sensors. The two types of sensors are in charge of obtaining data that pertain to the facial attributes of the user. One or more of the image sensors will come with a three-dimensional capture device that’s designed to capture the depths of the user’s facial features for impeccable verification.

What’s amazing about the newly published patent application from Apple is the fact that it was filed for in 2013. This just means that the Cupertino giant has been planning on bringing this technology to the 10th anniversary iPhone for more than three years now. Even though the document does not mention the iPhone 8, Apple Insider suggested that there is enough reason to believe that this technology will be introduced with the iPhone 7 successor. Aside from the leaks from suppliers, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed in the past that the iPhone 8 will come with a “revolutionary” front camera that’s capable of 3D sensing and modeling. Kuo is known for being a credible Apple leaker.

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 8 this September. However, based on the latest reports from sources and analysts who have information on the tech company’s plans, the device could be delayed by a couple of weeks. Apparently, Samsung’s biggest rival is said to be struggling with some issues with the handset’s wireless charging technology and its fingerprint and 3D sensors.