It has long been commonplace in science fiction and futuristic fantasy, but facial recognition and fingerprint scanning have quickly become a tangible reality in modern technology. Recently, I discussed how this technology has been used as a major focal point for Apple’s newest device, the iPhone X, and this feature alone has caused a rift in the mobile technology sector. On one hand, the feature has streamlined and innovated many of the phone’s pre-existing features (from emoji creation to m-commerce), and on the other it may pose issues for device owners in terms of usability and security.
This discussion is a microcosm of a much bigger one: how will recognition-based security features dictate the future of smartphones in general? Here are a few implications pertaining to this growing technological phenomenon.
Why now is face- and fingerprint-based recognition security seeing implementation in modern devices? After all, security debates aside, some would argue that the mere swiping of a screen locking widget is simply an easier method. In reality, the approach’s methodology lies in a combination of added convenience (looking at your phone is, after all, a lot quicker than reaching out to touch it, and placing a fingertip to the screen technically requires less effort than swiping through a pattern or inputting a password) and the fortification of pre-existing security (if functioning properly, facial and fingerprint recognition makes a device’s user the sole person who can log into that device). Put simply, recognition security streamlines an already quick process, condensing it, seemingly, into the blink of an eye (or perhaps the angling of a face).
The iPhone X has heavily touted its facial recognition features as a new approach to longstanding features, and this notion has spawned both excitement and skepticism. Critics of the recognition system point to questions regarding its security when used through mobile transactions and instances of shared personal information. The overall impact of recognition security’s effectiveness is currently undecided — time will tell as it is rolled out across more prominent devices — but the technology has been growing in use by credible outlets, including law enforcement agencies like the FBI.
The “death of the iPhone?”
With recognition security systems on the rise, some commentators are predicting the subsequent downfall of certain technologies as we know them — namely smartphones. This claim sounds outlandish, given the durability of smartphones within the modern technological landscape, but Tech Insider’s Jim Edwards argues that recognition security could essentially hasten mobile devices’ obsolescence: “if devices and software all automatically know who you are, and your bank account is linked to your ID, then you don’t need a device. You just need you. Any connected interface will be able to serve your needs, and connect you to all your stuff in the cloud, in a completely secure way.”