Apple granted patent for ‘on-the-fly’ enrollment for facial recognition

Apple has been granted a patent (number 11527107) for “on-the-fly enrollment for facial recognition” It involves system updates for the company’s various devices that would automatically update Face ID features.

About the patent

Biometric authentication processes are being used more frequently to allow users to more readily access their devices without the need for passcode or password authentication. One example is facial recognition such as Apple’s Face ID.

For authentication using facial recognition, an authorized user typically follows an enrollment protocol to register the user’s face on the device for future unlocking of the device using facial recognition authentication. The enrollment protocol typically has the user follow a controlled regiment to capture the user’s face in different poses and/or positions to generate enrollment data in order to provide the best possible experience for the user in unlocking the device. 

Some systems and/or devices may store the enrollment data as raw user data (e.g., raw data for images of the user is stored on the device). However, Apple says that storing raw user data for long term use as enrollment data may be unsafe if information from the system or device is illegally accessed (e.g., stolen or hacked). To prevent these situations, certain systems and/or devices may store processed data as the enrollment data (e.g., data generated by processing images of the user as described herein). 

Storing processed data for enrollment data instead of raw user data may provide enhanced security for the user by eliminating the long term storage of raw user data on the device. Of course, software operating the facial recognition authentication on a device may often be updated .

When software updates are implemented on the device, new enrollment data may need to be utilized with the new models due to the changes in operation of the device using the new models. For devices that utilize raw user data for enrollment data, the raw user data may be used to generate the new enrollment data.

For devices that utilize processed data for enrollment data, however, a new enrollment profile may need to be generated for the new model. One solution to generate the new enrollment profile is for the user to go through the enrollment protocol again (e.g., reenroll on the device). However, generating the new enrollment profile by reenrolling for a software update can be cumbersome to the user, especially if the user has to update his/her enrollment profile with every new software update. Apple wants its various devices to provide an even better user experience by providing methods for seamlessly transitioning template information from the currently operation version of the model to the updated or new model.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “When a software update is provided to a device that implements a facial recognition authentication process, a new authentication algorithm to operate the facial recognition authentication process may be included as part of software update. For a period of time, the new authentication algorithm may operate a “virtual” facial recognition authentication process alongside operation of the existing facial recognition authentication process using the existing (e.g., earlier version) authentication algorithm. 

“The performance of the new authentication algorithm in providing facial recognition authentication (as assessed by the “virtual” process) may be compared to the performance of the existing authentication algorithm in providing facial recognition authentication during the period of time. When the performance of the new authentication algorithm is determined to have a satisfactory performance, operation of the actual facial recognition authentication process on the device may be switched to the new authentication algorithm.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.