How RealSense ID Won't Trade Security for Convenience

Say 'cheese!'

Key Takeaways

  • Intel is moving forward with RealSense ID in an attempt to leverage developing facial recognition software.
  • Contactless services and products are on the rise due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Intel is capitalizing off the growing market.
  • RealSense is designed to overcome security flaws and counteract issues usually found in facial recognition with race and color bias by having an international data set of facial images.
Intel RealSense scanner creating a 2D scan of a face.

Your iPhone won’t be the only thing you can unlock with your face using Intel’s new RealSense ID.

The facial authenticator is a new on-device capability that analyzes a consumer’s face in unique detail—glasses and facial hair will not obstruct its recognition ability—to deliver security and convenience to users in a multitude of ways. 

Traditional modes of authentication, like photo IDs, are on their way out as newer tools become less prone to misuse and identity theft. These on-device networks, like RealSense ID, seek to corner markets, from healthcare to finance to housing, to guarantee increased safety and security for users.

"Facial recognition is convenient in many aspects; it is also concerning in other aspects. In terms of the convenience, it is reasonably secure and hands-free," said Achuta Kadambi, assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at UCLA, in a phone interview with Lifewire

"What is somewhat concerning is that facial recognition can be used by governments to overwatch society as a measure to identify civilians. This can cause issues in societies where there is a power imbalance."

Changing Biometric Industry

The tech includes new abilities to identify wrongful attempts to bypass the system with false entry attempts from saved images like videos or photos. RealSense ID only will recognize a pre-registered user through the locally sourced, encrypted data it collects. 

Intel also says that, through its user awareness technology, there is a one-in-a-million chance for false acceptance based on a similar appearance. It analyzes the contours and oddities of the face and has tried to address some of the well-known issues with facial recognition software. Namely, racial and color bias.

Security display, biometric processing.

Joel Hagberg, head of product management and marketing at Intel RealSense, told reporters the company invested in a diverse set of imaging. "We’ve done extensive data collection of all ethnicities from Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa. We were very careful to ensure that we have all ethnicities covered," he said.

In its press announcement, the company was adamant about its plan to lead the "protection of human rights" through ethical implementations of its biometric system.

Contactless Services Going Forward

The unveiling of Intel’s new RealSense ID came at an opportune time. Intel’s decision to dive headfirst into this market with its groundbreaking tech is a smart investment, Kadambi thinks. Contactless forms of interaction are on the rise in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In an era where contact can be deadly, contactless reigns supreme. Delivery services have opted for contactless deliveries and retailers have changed to curbside pickup.

The development and implementation of contactless services have become a growing concern for business leaders, especially for industries that use biometric data to avail services upon customers.

The face is the most recognized version of contactless biometric data gathering, most known for its inclusion in late-era iPhones to unlock the phone or bypass regular passwords by authenticating the user’s identity. However, the face is far from the only option for biometrics going forward. In some ways, it may be the one less likely to develop into the future.

Someone using a touchless fingerprint scanner to scan another person's finger.
Australian Institute of Technology

"The face is unique... it’s such a personal part of our biometrics," Kadambi said. "I wouldn’t be comfortable getting my face scanned every time I walk up to a check out counter. I would be much more comfortable if I could scan an image of my palm to get those biometrics."

Intel also revealed details on its touch-free, yet touch-based service with RealSense Touchless Control Software, which scans things like fingerprints without needing physical contact. With the RealSense ID and the RealSense TCS, the company is positioning itself to improve the accuracy and security of biometric technologies.  

RealSense ID has no hard release date, but it's on track to hit the shelves starting at $99 (for the peripheral) sometime during the end of Q1 2021. It can be used with ATMs, gate access control, and smart locks, and is expected to expand into healthcare and other industries in the future.

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