View from Barcelona – my take on the Mobile World Congress 2018
This a guest post by George Brostoff, CEO of SensibleVision.
57,000 steps. 98 flights of stairs. 7,700 CEOs. More handsets than you could count. Welcome to Mobile World Congress.
Every year the mobile glitterati descend upon the seaside town of Barcelona to hawk their wares, talk about the next phase in mobile technology and with any luck steal a glimpse of the Gaudi Cathedral and savor a local paella.
I was fortunate enough to participate last week and even though the weather was cold and rainy, it was a worthwhile adventure. Over the four days, attendees discussed artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), content and media, drones, blockchain, policy and regulation, and many other topics. There were new mobile-ready tablets from Huawei and of course Samsung introduced the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. There was a lot of talk about the coming 5G revolution, the implications of which are really quite exciting. By providing 1,000 times faster downloads than 4G, it has tremendous implications for financial services, healthcare and media and entertainment.
As a technologist with a long history in developing mobile face authentication solutions, I was most interested in seeing progress in this area. While there were lots of demos showing face recognition, much of it seemed to still be based on 2D protocols using RGB cameras. Which is hardly the state of the art. Being able to fairly accurately guess who a person is based on looking at their face is a long way from being able to provide consistent and accurate face authentication, which is where my passion lies.
To their credit, the event sponsors had partnered with PwC to provide a face recognition booth at the entrance to the venue. But honestly, I saw very few people using it. The reasons are probably myriad. The fact that it was even available probably could have been more widely publicized. Perhaps, unlike in Asia, Europeans tend to be more cautious about public use of biometrics. Certainly there are much stricter privacy laws in the EU than in other parts of the world.
While 2D face recognition has been around for a while delivering mixed results, Apple’s iPhone X is currently the only mobile device offering 3D face recognition capability. But the ability to provide virtually irrefutable face authentication exists today. By leveraging 3D cameras, AI-driven software and a new generation of high-speed chips, forward thinking-companies can deliver this capability in 2018. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been passionate about moving this paradigm forward since 2009. My company holds half a dozen issued patents for this technology.
To be fair, perhaps the main reason 3D face authentication has not been more widely adopted by the mobile community is that this is still a comparatively new technology. Costs are just now coming down and it has not yet delivered the killer use case that will drive widespread adoption across the general public. Of course, with some of the exciting projects Sensible Vision and others are working on, my hope is that we see increased use of 3D to deliver fast, accurate and secure face authentication for mobile devices and more next year in Barcelona. Stay tuned!
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