FaceID: Moving the Needle on Mainstream Biometric Trust?

Person using iPhone X FaceID

This week saw a much-hyped tech launch with the release of the iPhone X.

For us, the event marked an important step forward in biometric authentication adoption in the form of FaceID.

Apple has been a key driver in mainstream biometric authentication with the introduction of TouchID on the iPhone 5S back in 2013.

Using fingerprint technology to unlock the device was touted as a more secure solution than a passcode alone and played strongly to its audience with a focus on convenience.

TouchID has done much to push consumer trust in using biometrics. Mobile banking and payment services have since proliferated, many incorporating TouchID as a key authenticator.


The iPhone X goes even further by removing the TouchID sensor and the Home button for authentication based on facial recognition.

The technology uses a robust combination of hardware including a dot projector, flood illuminator and infrared camera for sophisticated depth and liveness perception.

iPhone X sensors

The Future of Privacy?

Concerns are already being raised about the security concerns of using facial recognition technology in this way, and the wider questions around biometric authentication in general.

Using a biometric modal provides a stronger and more secure experience than passwords or PINs alone. It also offers convenience, smoothing the way for faster digital interactions – a key demand of connected customers.

But what happens if your biometric authenticator is compromised? A facial profile cannot be reset like a password and the implications of your connected services being manipulated after such a compromise could be highly damaging.

No One Biometric to Rule Them All

Naturally, an internal biometric like ECG is much more difficult to recreate or hack like an external one such as facial recognition, but it would be naive to suggest that any single method is watertight.

The  key to total security could be a multimodal approach.

Fingerprint Cards CTO Pontus Jägemalm:

The market for biometric identity verification will not be about one technology that beats all of the others, but rather that several technologies will integrate with each other depending on the application and specific use

The launch of FaceID is going to move the needle on mainstream biometric authentication, for good or bad.

It will help us ascertain what the public appetite is to push the boundaries even further on using their physiological profile in exchange for greater convenience, and where their trust levels currently lie.

Even the inevitable privacy concerns should help drive innovation in authentication, and push the security market to keep up.

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