Thursday, October 20, 2005

Cellphones learn to recognize their owners' faces

Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd. this week began marketing a technology that inexpensively adds face recognition to camera-equipped cellphones. Oki's "Face Sensing Engine" (FSE) "middleware" decodes facial images within 280mS on a 100MHz ARM9 processor, and can restrict access to mobile devices by recognizing their owners, the company says.

Oki says its FSE technology can help protect sensitive personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses from unwanted access, in the event of loss or theft of a mobile device. The use of face recognition, based on the mobile device's built-in digital camera, eliminates the need for users to enter passwords to use their devices, and provides a faster and more natural method of authentication. Oki points out.

FSE can acquire facial images from within a larger image. It works by locating and mapping key facial features -- such as eyes, eyebrows, and mouth -- and adapts to changing facial conditions such as winking and smiling, according to Oki.

Oki lists the following key features of its FSE technology:

  • Compact system footprint -- requires approximately 260KB on an ARM9 processor

  • Fast image processing -- requires approximately 280mS on a 100MHz ARM9 processor

  • Face recognition algorithm automatically adjusts to ambient lighting conditions

  • Supported processor architectures -- ARM9, SH Mobile, and others

  • Supported software platforms -- Symbian, uITRON, Linux, BREW, WIPI, Windows, Solaris, and others

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