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Google wins face-to-unlock for multiple users patent, makes us hungry for Android support

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This is one of those patents that we were pretty curious about, because the timeline of the story was quite interesting. Google announced Face Unlock as part of Ice Cream Sandwich last year. A little bit after that we found out that Apple had applied for a patent for what seemed to be the very same thing back in 2010. Of course, Google’s Face Unlock was based on technology from PittPatt, which had a patent granted in 2007. Google’s newly granted patent was submitted for approval in late 2011, just before the ICS announcement.

This all goes to show that what we may consider to be relatively identical patents can be quite different, because the patents are for the underlying mechanism, not the general functionality that we talk about. For example, Google’s new patent details the same mechanism as Apple’s for recognizing various facial features, but seems to go well beyond that into a number of methods for logging in to a computer with the facial recognition. Additionally, where Apple’s filing was specifically for iOS devices, Google’s new patent covers any device with a camera, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc.

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