Apple has filed for a patent (number 20190270529) for “robust face detection” in devices such as computers. Does that mean we’ll see FaceID on Macs? Probably, but only Apple knows when/if this will happen.
Current face detection processes typically only detect faces in certain orientations (e.g., upright (normal) portrait or landscape modes). In the patent filing, Apple says that images may often be rotated based on other sensor data to provide upright pictures for face detection, which can be unreliable and processor intensive.
The tech giant adds that current face detection processes also typically reject an image for face detection (and downstream processes) if only part of a face is detected in the image. Such images are often rejected because the face detection is not reliable in detecting partial faces.
Finally, Apple says that tace detection processes are also often limited in providing face detection in challenging lighting conditions (low light and/or bright light conditions). The distance between the face of the user and the camera may also adversely affect the effectiveness of the face detection process. Apple wants to overcome these shortcomings with its own technology.
Here’s the summary of the invention: “A neural network may implement a face detection process on a mobile device or computer system. An image captured using a camera on the device may be processed using the face detection process. The face detection process may provide a bounding box for the face detected in the image.
“The face detected in the image may have any orientation. The face detected in the image may include either a whole face of the user or only a partial face of the user. The face detection process may provide face detection that is substantially invariant to exposure in the captured image. The face may also be detected over a wide range of distances between the camera and the face of the user.”