Google wins Face Unlock patent

Google wins Face Unlock patent
This is one of those patents that we were pretty curious about, because the timeline of the story was quite interesting. Google announced Face Unlock as part of Ice Cream Sandwich last year. A little bit after that we found out that Apple had applied for a patent for what seemed to be the very same thing back in 2010. Of course, Google's Face Unlock was based on technology from PittPatt, which had a patent granted in 2007. Google's newly granted patent was submitted for approval in late 2011, just before the ICS announcement.

This all goes to show that what we may consider to be relatively identical patents can be quite different, because the patents are for the underlying mechanism, not the general functionality that we talk about. For example, Google's new patent details the same mechanism as Apple's for recognizing various facial features, but seems to go well beyond that into a number of methods for logging in to a computer with the facial recognition. Additionally, where Apple's filing was specifically for iOS devices, Google's new patent covers any device with a camera, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc. 

Of course, right now, all of this doesn't really matter all that much as Face Unlock is still something of a gimmick, and not a real security option. Jelly Bean's update to ask for blinking helps, but it can still be gamed fairly easily. Maybe by the time the technology is widely usable, the USPTO will have started working to fix the patent system. 

source: USPTO via VentureBeat

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49 Comments

1. serious9010

Posts: 254; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

Who's the patent troll now, apple or google??

4. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

You're kidding me, right? This is a patent for a feature that Android devices actually USE. Nothing patent trollish at all for Google.

10. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

yea, that would be the guy suing over green icons and rectangles as well as the fruit company that opened fake front companies and giving them patents so they can sue and patent troll for you without your name being directly involved. Too bad they got caught on that one, eh?

21. paulyyd

Posts: 340; Member since: Jan 08, 2011

lol you sound mad broski

28. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

Apple is!!, any more questions?

34. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

APPLE PLUS U are the BIGGEST troll

40. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Who has Google sued over face unlock? Exactly....

2. wassup

Posts: 565; Member since: Jun 23, 2011

Well done Google, you should have a working prototype for a patent to be given, not like apple who got patents for things they drew on paper napkins.

5. CivicSi89

Posts: 349; Member since: Jul 23, 2011

YES!!!!

6. sbr999

Posts: 79; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

Haha apple. They must be jelly right now.

43. juanyunis

Posts: 73; Member since: Aug 31, 2012

i see what you did there and i like it.

7. Evil_SaNz

Posts: 259; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

Not the most useful patent but it's a start :p

20. xtremesv

Posts: 299; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

What about a patent like Slide to Unlock... that is creative and useful huh.

36. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

My dog could have thought of it. Nothing creative nor innovative about it. Lucky for us apple has yet to patent the round circle or we will be paying 30 to 40 dollar to use a coaster.

8. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

They also got a patent for multiple face unlock users. Meaning more then one person can unlock One device. So if the wife and I have a Galaxy tab, we can use face unlock and have both our faces work to unlock the device instead of just one face. If she's at work and im home, I don't need her face to unlock it because its set up to detect more then one persons face. How neat is that.

11. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

actually this could be more about the android multiple account thing, and the reason JB has it disabled, you can have two accounts on a tablet, unlocking with your face could take you to your account while your wife could have another account that unlocks with her face

14. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

That would be good, we could both have our own themes. Her with her Backstreet boy crap and me with naked hot women :) hehe

15. ivanko34

Posts: 617; Member since: Sep 04, 2011

So both Apple and Google will get a patent for the same thing ?

19. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1246; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

In US, till now more than 5500 patents have been granted for "MOUSE TRAPS"... So this is NOT uncommon...

32. ivanko34

Posts: 617; Member since: Sep 04, 2011

Do you know if all 5500 patents belong to Apple ?

35. Owlet

Posts: 450; Member since: Feb 21, 2011

That is hilarious! :-D

37. quickweevil

Posts: 51; Member since: Dec 21, 2011

Alright. That was funny. Haha

25. voxmarc

Posts: 336; Member since: Aug 22, 2012

Careful on the comments guys, about Apple losing...this is iPhoneArena remember?

26. voxmarc

Posts: 336; Member since: Aug 22, 2012

Careful on the comments guys, about Apple losing...this is iPhoneArena remember?

33. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Bout time I was hoping they would getting before the GREEDY FRUIT gets it then start SUING someone all over again.

39. Savage unregistered

Don't worry Google, Apple will still use their Slide to Unlock for a close to a 100 years before they switch to any other methods. Maybe you should also patent the pattern, combination unlock too.

41. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

All I can say is...whew. Congrats Google.

42. android8

Posts: 23; Member since: Aug 07, 2012

Great News !!!! It is essential that Innovations by Android team are preserved and considered to be an IP.

44. qwertypoor

Posts: 72; Member since: Jun 09, 2012

They haven't got the notification patent yet?

49. ArchaicKing

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 03, 2013

kinda funny all the comments about Apple. Main point- If you develop software for any iOS device and you don't work for Apple, then you get sued and your software becomes their property. They want exclusive rights to your personal information with no limits on how or when they collect it and sole rights to sell your information to whomever they wish as often as they wish. Apple has tried suing Kodak for their color enhancement software, Adobe for their flash software, Google for their Android software, etc. When they lose they impose a new software update to remove all software from all their iOS devices to remove software they don't control major interest. They designed iPads with major security flaws, knowing the flaws were there, just to prove a point. And all iOS devices incorporate some form of GPS in their design by hardware and software that even when disabled by the Settings still runs. For all the supposed innovations that Apple was responsible for, they forgot without the Intel hardware and software, their company would have been like alot of other computer companies, just bankrupt and dead. The only thing a iOS product is good for is taking up space in a landfill. If a Apple isn't good for eating then it should be thrown away. I'm just glad Android by Google helps me laugh at everything Apple makes. But who knows, maybe Apple will sue IBM claiming they invented the computer and MicroSoft claiming they invented the first almost universal OS for computers worldwide. I have seen Apple at its best and to me it was joke then and is a bigger joke now. Wonder why so many people buy Apple products knowing that everybody else sells technology that is better than theirs yet Apple charges a much larger fee for their crap. iPods, iPads, iPhones, iTablets, etc. iThink it's time for Apple to get iReal and stop trying to rip off everybody or just go iBroke.

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