Apple as usual has made a business decision that could lead to exciting new features on the next generation iPhone and beyond. The company has acquired Swedish company Polar Rose, known for its mobile face recognition technology FaceLib among other similar products.
With full face detection and tracking of faces in video, the solutions Polar Rose delivers could change how you interact with your iPhone. Now that the iPhone 4 has a front-facing camera, passcode lock could end up going the way of the dinosaurs.
Imagine holding your iPhone up and the device automatically unlocking to reveal your home screen. The neat trick is that your iPhone won't do this for anyone else. If the software on the iPhone recognizes your face, this replaces your passcode. Some Apple patents have recently been revealed that could lead to iPhones recognizing the shape of your hand, which could also replace the four-digit passcode.
Other interesting uses for the technology include automatically tagging people in photos and recognizing FaceTime callers from contact information. As the photographs taken on the iPhone improve, various image analysis algorithms could also be used to automatically classify and organize photos by type or subject.
Apple's iPhoto currently recognizes faces in pictures for tagging purposes. It's possible Apple is looking to improve and expand this functionality. Polar Rose removed its free tagging services for Facebook and Flickr earlier this month, citing interest from larger companies in licensing their technology. Staying true to form, Apple has not confirmed the acquisition of Polar Rose.