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How does face recognition technology work in a smartphone?

In modern smartphones, facial recognition system is increasingly being introduced. But how does it work?

It can be said that the iPhone X has opened a new era. Face recognition technology - its main "feature". And no one doubts that this method of unlocking will be implemented in many other smartphones.


A little bit of history

Back in the 1960s, special experiments were conducted, during which the computer had to learn how to recognize a human face. Then it led nowhere, as any emotion led to a crash. Also, the invented system was afraid of changing lighting conditions.

Only at the very end of the twentieth century did systems emerge that learned to identify people's faces from photographs, memorizing them. At the same time, they ceased to fail when a mustache, beard, glasses, and other “interferences” appeared. Most actively, such systems began to be introduced into digital cameras. They also found a place in the security sector.

Face recognition systems have had one major drawback for a long time. They depended heavily on light and angle. However, this problem was not noticeable in security scanners. The face was applied to them almost closely, then illuminated with lamps. The introduction of stereo filming helped to get rid of the aforementioned deficiency. Two cameras understand the depth of the scene, and therefore the accuracy of the readings increases several times.

How does face recognition technology work?

Gradually, a new feature began to appear in smartphones. Here, the biometric identification of the user is introduced in order to unlock the device could not be a stranger. Ideally, only the twin can access personal information. To worry about this is not worth it. It is unlikely that anyone will seriously hide something from a sibling. And no one bothers to set an extra password for reading some particularly sensitive data.

The work of the facial recognition system in smartphones can be divided into four stages:

  1. Face scan It is carried out using a front camera or, as is the case with the iPhone X, a special sensor. Scanning is three-dimensional, so the focus showing the photo will not work.
  2. Extract unique data. The system focuses on a set of features of the scanned face. Most often it is the contours of the orbits, the shape of the cheekbones and the width of the nose. In advanced systems, scars can also be noticed.
  3. Extract from the template memory with previously received data.
  4. Search for matches. The final stage in which the system decides whether to unlock the display. The power of modern processors allows you to spend on "thinking" the whole fraction of a second.

The face recognition function can be implemented even with the help of the front camera - if only it had two lenses. However, in this case, the operation of this function will be unstable. The fact is that only special sensors will provide a face scan even in the dark, while the front view requires bright lighting. Also, special sensors virtually display more points on the face, so they work even when a beard, goggles and other interferences appear. In a word, in some DOOGEE Mix 2 the system will definitely work noticeably worse than in the iPhone X. Another thing is that the anniversary Apple product is much more expensive than all other smartphones with face recognition.

Behind the technology is the future?

Sensors needed for facial scanning require an ideal installation. The shift to hundredths of a millimeter will cause the function to cease to be ideal - therefore, in the production of a smartphone, there may be an increased yield of rejects, and this leads to an increase in its cost. Yes, and the sensors themselves are very expensive, it is no accident that only Apple uses them, although it does not have any patents for them.

In a word, for the time being, the “Android” manufacturers will implement the face recognition function through the front camera. Already, it can be found in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8. But the owners of these devices will confirm to you that it does not work in the best way - it is easier to use a fingerprint scanner . Therefore, so far nothing can be said about the future of the function. You have to wait to see whether Apple will implement the appropriate sensors in more affordable smartphones, and whether they will appear in Android devices.


You should not worry about saving your identification data. The template created when scanning a face is in a separate section of memory - reading this sector by a computer or third-party programs is impossible. However, this also applies to fingerprints. And which type of identification is more convenient to use - only you can choose it.

Have you ever held in your hands a smartphone that can recognize a face? And are you waiting for the mass implementation of this function? Share your opinion in the comments, we will be happy!

Comment on


  • Honor P20 lite everything seems to work clearly and quickly. Configured without glasses, with glasses works. With a closed mouth mask, too, will find out. And in the twilight he sees the same.

  • Honor 7x works, though in the dark it is not visible, but if there is even a small illumination, then the face is recognized, sometimes you do not even have time to turn on the flashlight.