How Will Face ID Be Used for Attention-Tracking in Ads?

While fans are excited about the new iPhone X, there are a number of people questioning how Apple plans to incorporate the advanced Face ID technology into their advertising programs. Read on for an overview of Face ID, its enterprise applications, and the safeguards Apple has in place to protect users.

What is Face ID?

Face ID is a biometric authentication process that uses a TrueDepth camera system to project an invisible net of dots onto the user’s skin. An advanced algorithm uses the dots to map the geography of their face, creating a 3D model for later comparison. Unlike previous facial recognition programs, Face ID adapts to changes in a user’s appearance. It updates its model with every check-in to account for factors like facial hair, weight fluctuations, glasses, hats, and more.

Is it safe?

Apple’s engineers say identity theft is highly unlikely with Face ID. There are a number of barriers to “facial theft”, the foremost being that a user’s direct biometric data never leaves their personal device. Even the mathematical facial model used for Face ID is encrypted within the device’s Secure Enclave. While third parties can offer Face ID as a form of authentication, they won’t have access to the user’s actual facial model. They will only receive a binary approval or rejection from Face ID. Moreover, every app must ask for permission to access Face ID. It remains to be seen how specific that request must be (will Face ID cover attention tracking as well?) but at the very least, users can decide for themselves how much to share. That puts control over privacy in the hands of consumers.

How does attention tracking work?

Attention tracking has been part of the Apple code since iOS5, but it wasn’t useful until neural networks matured enough to handle matching and detect spoofing. Now the technology has made a host of new features available for consumers and app developers alike. Face ID’s attention tracking algorithm first uses the device’s camera to mark the positions of a user’s eyes and mouth, then calculates the angle from each feature to the phone. That data predicts whether the user is looking at the screen and where on a page their attention is focused. Users can access some “attention aware” features without even enrolling in Face ID. The iPhone X automatically dims or disables the display when users look away. It also lowers the alert volume when users are actively engaged with the phone, signalling the alert with a visual cue instead. On the creator’s side, the possibilities are even more exciting. Developers can use Face ID in conjunction with Apple’s suite of Augmented Reality development tools, called “ARKit”, to built AR apps that integrate a user’s facial data into their function. According to the press release apps will be able to detect the “position, topology, and expression of the user’s face, all with high accuracy and in real time.”

What business advantage does attention tracking offer?

Detecting a user’s expression and being able to relate that to what they’re looking at is a major clue to how they feel about content. Face ID could provide real-time performance metrics for entertainment, advertising campaigns, and more. Apple’s developer policy forbids the use of facial model data for marketing purposes. Attention tracking isn’t specifically included in that restriction, though. The policy refers to the mathematical models used for identification. This opens up attention tracking as an innovative method of judging public response to digital marketing campaigns and building accurate customer profiles. For more info, read our blog post Computer Vision: Facial Recognition for Businesses.

Looking forward

The iPhone X went on sale in early November, so it’s still too soon to measure Face ID’s lasting impact. It will be interesting to see how users respond to ARKit integrations and attention tracking in the long run. If this takes off, it could be a major step forward in improving the customer experience.

Are you curious about Face ID? Concepta’s custom programming team can walk you through the basics and decide if Face ID is right for your next app. Reach out now for your free consultation!

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