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Windows 10’s facial recognition feature requires depth cameras too costly for most PCs


Window 10’s multimodal biometric authentication security feature requires “depth cameras” with infrared light sensors, which analysts and PC manufacturers say are too costly to integrate into the popular, lower-range PCs available on the market, according to a report by PC World.

Previously reported in March, the upcoming release of Windows 10 will feature Microsoft’s new biometric security system Hello, which will allow users to unlock their phone, tablet or PC by authenticating their face, eyeball or fingerprints.

Analysts and PC makers also say that the depth camera modules, which are typically made by Intel, will likely not be installed within many new monitors accompanying desktop PCs.

“The expectation is that, looking at depth cameras, they’ll appear in the most expensive, top-of-the-line models first,” said Bob O’Donnell, principal at TECHnalysis Research.

Windows Hello can use one of two technologies to identify you: a fingerprint reader, or a depth camera. There’s a third available—an iris camera, which looks deep into your eye—but that requires dipping one’s head and peering closely into the camera. All three have their own issues: The depth cameras are reportedly expensive, thumbprint readers have a reputation for spotty performance, and the way iris cameras work make them better suited for phones.

“I think the ecosystem around the [infrared] camera isn’t quite there yet, and we’re all sort of struggling to sort out the meaning of that,” said Jeff Barney, the vice president and general manager of Toshiba America’s PC business.

Companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard also seem to share Toshiba’s thoughts, according to analysts who have talked to the companies.

Meanwhile, those who have seen demonstrations of the Windows Hello biometric authentication technology say it works wonderfully.

A Windows 10 PC is able to wake up nearly instantaneously using a depth camera, without entering a password.

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