Apple's AR-ready iPhone 8 will know your face

Face recognition, wireless charging, and more as latest iPhone 8 rumours ship

Apple, iPhone, iPhone 8, iOS, VR, AR
Andrew (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Apple will announce stronger than anticipated iPhone 7 sales at its next fiscal call, but as the smartphone category it created hits ten years old, we can't help speculating at what's coming in iPhone 8, "some form of facial/gesture recognition" is the latest in.

I know you

Cowen and Company analyst, Timothy Arcuri, writes:

"Other features appear to include some form of facial/gesture recognition supported by a new laser sensor and an infrared sensor mounted near the front-facing camera."

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 An additional layer of biometric protection could help keep people safer online. This is incredibly important now online fraud is more common than any other crime.

Wireless, glass, and more

The analyst also confirms that the next-generation iPhone will finally deliver wireless charging in some form.

(Despite claims today that Lite-On will provide wireless charging components for the device, I don't believe we are looking at full room charging from Energous at this time.)

The analyst expects record shipments of the new iPhone, which he predicts will spark a new "super cycle" in sales terms. He also made a few additional predictions that seem to match current expectation:

  • A wraparound display in the larger model
  • Components embedded in the display
  • No physical Home/Touch ID button
  • Stainless steel casing to hold together two slices of front and back glass.

Augmented reality

Business Insider speculates the move to put facial/gesture recognition technology inside iPhone reflects Apple's bigger move into AR.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has stressed Apple's interest in AR, and available products such as the machine intelligence within Photos and Face recognition show some of the ways the company may be thinking.

“We are high on AR for the long run, we think there’s great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity," said Cook recently.

Research and development

It is thought that Apple has teams developing AR technologies for use within the iPhone Camera app.

The FT recently claimed Apple has hundreds of staff “from a series of carefully targeted acquisitions” working with others “poached from companies that are working on next-generation headset technologies.” It has also hired VR research scientist Yury Petrov from Facebook’s Oculus division, Magic Leap’s Zeyu Li and Doug Bowman, the Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech.

"Apple is working to make the iPhone camera a portal to augmented reality," Kris Kolo said. (Kolo is Global Executive Director for the VR/AR Association, and was an advisor to FlyBy Media, an AR startup Apple acquired in 2016.

VR glasses?

Apple is also developing special glasses that can be used in conjunction with these technologies, Kolo claims. The company has been developing these for a very long time. Way back in 2008 Research & Markets wrote:

"Sony and Apple are developing the next generation personal viewer, the navigation/video sunglasses. These products will offer navigation features in full see-through mode as well as video viewing with a clip-on to block the background. We expect that clip-ons will be available to provide both see-periphery views of the environment, as well as full blocking of the environment to enable video immersion when desired. This new versatile product generation will further accelerate acceptance and sales of personal viewers.”

Can it work?

Kolo says the ultimate goal is to be able to point the iPhone at a real-world object and have it be recognized. This may enable layering of additional information on everyday products in similar fashion to technologies from Blippar or Vuforia.

There is certainly plenty of interest.

  • Strategy Analytics predicts millions of people will purchase a VR headset this year.
  • An August 2016 Fluent survey claims almost a quarter of Americans over 18-years old are ready to buy an Apple VR headset.

If all the speculation turns out to match fire with fact, then the stage certainly seems to be set for Apple to begin to change the virtual world, even as it has forever disrupted the physical with the Mac, iPod and iPhone.

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