The iPhone X’s archnemesis: identical twins

Apple touted facial recognition as a security upgrade to its existing TouchID feature -- but, it turns out the tech can be easily tricked by human genetics.


November 1, 2017

When Apple announced its $1k iPhone X back in September, we learned they were ditching the home screen button log-in for something snazzier: facial recognition.

The company touted it as a more secure upgrade to its existing TouchID feature — but, it turns out the tech can be easily tricked by human genetics.

Apple’s upgrade

The new system, called Face ID, utilizes a new TrueDepth camera, which projects 30k “invisible dots” onto a user’s face creating a 3D model that verifies identity and unlocks the screen.

The tech is also equipped with an A11 bionic chip, which allows it to enlist machine learning to detect changes in a user’s appearance. As Forbes writes, “you can put on glasses, wear a hat, grow a beard. Even wild makeup will not fool Face ID… it will know you.”

Apple claims this system only allows for a 1 in 1m chance of someone else accessing your phone, compared to TouchID’s 1 in 50k.

Sounds great — unless you’re an identical twin

Mashable experimented and found that the phone’s Face ID couldn’t distinguish between sets of identical twins: they could easily log into each other’s devices. This wasn’t an issue with TouchID, as identical twins have different fingerprints.

Roughly 3.2% of the world’s population are twins, and about one-third of them are identical — so, this isn’t an insignificant issue.

But to be fair, even the parents of identical twins have a tough time telling them apart, so how much can you really blame tech here?

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