Vodafone K.K. has announced the introduction of a Face Recognition function that authenticates customers by sensing their facial features to increase mobile phone security. The new function will be included in the Vodafone 904SH, a new 3G handset by Sharp scheduled to go on sale in late April 2006.
The Face Recognition function employs software based on Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd.'s "FSE (Face Sensing Engine)", embedded facial image processing middleware, and utilizes the sub-camera located close to the main display to recognize customers by sensing the position of their eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and other facial features. By pre-registering a customer's face and a secret question and answer, the camera will automatically activate when the handset is opened and authenticate a customer in less than a second. When the Face Recognition function is enabled the keypad will be locked until the handset is opened and the pre-registered customer's facial features matched. Also, if facial features cannot be properly sensed due to dark or backlight conditions, the face and secret question of the person who opens the handset will be displayed and the handset can be unlocked by entering the appropriate answer.
The Face Recognition function is designed to ensure the security of users handsets by preventing misuse by third parties, and can also protect private information such as registered numbers, mail addresses, and mails in the event that their handset is lost or stolen.