Apple files new facial recognition patent

December 14, 2012 - 

Apple has filed a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, outlining a new facial recognition system that analyzes the characteristics of an image’s subject and uses this data to create a “faceprint,” to match with other photos to establish a person’s identity, Apple Insider reports. 

According to a TechCrunch article on the recent filing, this new image recognition patent appears similar to Apple’s existing facial recognition systems included in iPhoto, which allows automatic tagging and identifying of friends and family in pictures after first determining the unique characteristics of their face.

This new patent, dubbed the “Auto-recognition for noteworthy objects” appears to be intended to tag celebrities, landmarks and famous objects. TechCrunch reports that though most the patent describes these faceprints as representing actual people, it also allows for the recognition of “iconic images.” Though the exact intent behind this recently-filed patent is unknown, it does describe a system returning information including Facebook pages, Twitter profiles and iTunes Store links.

As the patent filing explains:

“In order to automatically recognise a person’s face that is detected in a digital image, facial detection/recognition software generates a set of features or a feature vector (referred to as a “faceprint”) that indicate characteristics of the person’s face. The generate faceprint is then compared to other faceprints to determine whether the generated faceprint matches (or is similar enough to) one or more of the other faceprints. If so, then the facial detection/recognition software determines that the person corresponsing to the generated faceprint is likely to be the same person that corresponds to the “matched” faceprints(s).”

This patent also includes the ability to group together multiple faceprints using metadata along with a reliability score. This can supposedly help to identify faces as they age, as well as in the case of famous people, provide a visual retrospective.

Many await advanced biometric integration in Apple devices. Earlier this year, Apple agreed to purchase AuthenTec for a cool US$356 million and since then, there has been mass speculation as to how the company would make use of this acquisition. Though this most recent patent filing isn’t it, it’s clear Apple is making moves towards deeper biometric integrations.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj