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Apple adds facial recognition smart home features and launches biometric digital car keys


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Face biometrics are coming to Apple’s HomeKit cameras to identify people tagged in users’ Photos app when they are at the front door, Apple Insider reports.

Apple’s Secure Video feature also enables users to focus motion detection on specified “Activity Zones.” If a person at the door is recognized, integration with HomePod will enable the smart speaker to announce who is there, and an Apple TV that is already in use can show a live feed from the HomeKit camera with a picture-in-picture.

Several other new features related to smart home technology were also announced, and a new alliance with other companies including Google and Amazon to set a smart home networking standard.

Apple also announced a new digital car key based on biometric authentication, which communicates with vehicles through NFC, though The Verge also reports that the company is working on a standard to allow its new U1 ultra wideband chip to be used instead.

The feature is built into iOS 14, but also supports iOS 13. Some automakers have digital keys on the market, but they operate through stand-alone apps. Storing the digital key in the OS may also allow users to store keys to multiple vehicles.

To use the key, an iPhone or Apple Watch is paired with a car that supports Car Key, which the 2021 BMW 5 Series does, to begin with, and the user is prompted to authenticate with Face ID or Touch ID, though an “Express Mode” can also be met for those too impatient to maximize their vehicle’s theft protection. Access can be shared with other people through iMessage.

The Verge suggests that Car Key may be utilizing the Car Connectivity Consortium’s Digital Key Release 2.0, and the publication notes that Apple’s alternative representative for that group, Emily Schubert, is also listed as an inventor on an Apple patent for a portable computing device used to locate a vehicle.

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