Last year we discovered that Samsung’s facial recognition biometric authentication method doesn’t work that well in a pandemic where everyone has to wear a face mask. This gave us yet another reason to lament the removal of the iris scanner and we began hoping that Samsung would work its magic and somehow address this shortcoming.
Many months have passed since but Samsung hasn’t really spent any energy on improving its facial recognition technology in a way that would allow for secure authentication while the user is wearing a face mask.
And truth be told, it’s a really difficult problem to solve, as even Samsung’s biggest rival — Apple — whose smartphones take advantage of a more advanced Face ID technology has had issues with detecting faces behind masks and providing secure authentication. However, Apple did find a way, and it’s now rolling out the feature to beta iOS users.
Can Samsung borrow a page from Apple?
Is there a way for Samsung to gain inspiration from Apple and implement a similar solution? Perhaps, or at the very least, the Korean tech giant seemingly has all the right components to do so.
See, Apple’s Face ID technology didn’t just suddenly become better at working around the face mask issue. Instead, Face ID now leverages the Apple Watch and the function that detects whether or not its worn on the owner’s wrist. As long as the Watch is unlocked while being worn by the user, Face ID’s strict authentication requirements become more lenient without compromising security.
All of this means that iPhone owners can, in theory, securely unlock their phones with Face ID while wearing a mask, as long as the Apple Watch is worn unlocked as a backup authentication method. And here’s where Samsung could be gaining inspiration from. Its Galaxy smartwatches already detect whether or not they’re worn by the user, though this functionality is very limited and mostly exists for notifications.
But perhaps Samsung could expand upon this functionality in a way that would allow it to double as a backup security method when paired with a smartphone’s face recognition capabilities. Sadly, Samsung hasn’t made any visible progress in this area so far, but we’re hoping that Apple’s implementation will persuade Samsung into thinking outside the box and come up with a similar or even better fix to this problem.