Apple's Facial-Recognition Patent Could Bring User Accounts to the iPad

By Wesley Fenlon

Tablets like the iPad need dedicated user accounts, and Apple's new patent could automatically detect users via facial recognition.

Staying abreast of the latest and greatest technology, it’s easy to pass up the big picture by focusing on the next software bump, hardware upgrade, or cool invention. In the past decade, the very nature of our devices has completely changed. Public media has, quite suddenly, become intensely personal. Your phone used to sit on a table, and if you picked it up and typed in a number, you could talk to someone. That was about it. Now, it's likely a vast repository of personal information. Call histories, text messages, emails--all of it’s immediately accessible, and not particularly secure.

Perhaps phones can get away with being personal one-user devices, but the iPad definitely can’t. With a big screen and family-friendly UI, the iPad is begging to be passed around to friends, moms and dads. Why, then, does it run on the same iOS as the iPhone, with no account options? Computers have allowed us to create user accounts with customizable permissions for years, and it’s high time the iPad followed suit.

Apple patent revealed by the U.S. Patent Office could use a photograph, sound recording, or heartbeat of a user for security or account purposes. Now that sure beats the pants off passwords.

early reports on the iPad mentioned that Apple was experimenting with this technology. Obviously it didn’t make the final cut, but it would be absolutely perfect for an accessible device like the iPad. Give us a 2nd generation device with a front-facing camera and facial recognition please, Apple. At the very least, implement some basic user account options. Even copying them wholesale from Mac OS would get the job done.

The far more futuristic possibility of a built-in heartbeat monitor, which Apple patented in May, is almost too cool to think about. An iPhone equipped with a heartbeat sensor would be an incredible innovation for personal media. Far faster than facial recognition, heartbeat detection could seamlessly lock down a device or switch it over to a guest mode with access to all those cool games you want to show your friends...and none of those embarrassing drunk texts.