back to article Face, face, face! Apple, TrueDepth and a nose-driven iPhone X game

On the November 3, 2017, Brad Dwyer set to work unearthing the mysteries of Apple’s released-that-day iPhone X and its strange new TrueDepth camera. The engineer and entrepreneur wanted to create an app to leverage that new forward-facing face-scanning camera - to build one of the in a first generation of "face-driven games - …

  1. djstardust


    Just put the finger scanner back and take £200 off. Thanks.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Really....

      Yeah and get rid of those dangerous microwaves and plug it in like a proper phone!

      1. Tom Graham

        Re: Really....

        If the face unlocking were actually functionally superior to a fingerprint reader in any way, to justify the price:


        -More reliable

        -More secure

        You might have a point, but it is none of those.

        At the moment you have an expensive new bit of hardware that implements an existing function in a slightly worse way.

        Apart from that it is an interesting bit of technology, which might be used to do something useful and innovative in the future, but so far we have only got animated emojis and a nose-pointing game.

        On the other hand, I suppose the rest of us should be grateful that the zealots are more willing than XBox owners to pay so much to bankroll a speculative R&D project.

        1. jimmy-o

          Re: Really....

          For me, the X ticks all 3, so yes, it does justify the price. Plus it works when you have sweaty/dirty fingertips. Personally, I couldn't go back to fingerprint readers now.

    2. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

      Re: Really....

      You mean the finger scanner you can still buy in iPhone 8? Just buy one of those for finger and cheaper price.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why? The whole point of Apple is expensive, an appearance of tech leadership, and very shiney.

    If you want to save money, why pay £800 phone for a phone that's little better than something you could buy with a different OS for £200?

    1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

      "The whole point of Apple is expensive" - just incorrect.

  3. Cuddles

    But is it actually any use?

    The article mentions Kinect several times, but despite noting that it was a very interesting (and quite useful in certain niches) idea that failed commercially due to the lack of any common use, this doesn't seem to be applied to the iPhone system - what actual use is there for a Kinect on your phone? As mentioned, Kinect was able to produce all kinds of interesting videos of cool things it could do; the best TrueDepth can manage is to tell you which way your nose is pointing. We already have commercially available systems that allow, for example, disabled people to control computers just with their eyes. How is measuring the orientation of an entire face supposed to be more interesting or useful than that? It's a worse, albeit more portable, Kinect that doesn't actually do anything new or useful. It's obviously well optimised for facial recognition, if you happen to like that sort of thing, but this nose direction demo really doesn't suggest that there will be thousands of amazing new uses for it coming along any time soon.

  4. DJV Silver badge

    Nose driven...

    I hope there's a "sneeze" filter that prevents you from accidentally calling an Uber or donating £££ to a Nigerian prince when you suddenly let off an unexpected and particularly violent one!

    1. 's water music

      Re: Nose driven...

      Gesture controls

      1. MrT

        Re: Nose driven...

        Bewitched: Brilliant!

        7 minutes in - was like downloading on dial-up... :-)

    2. MrT

      Re: Nose driven...

      It could be using the device's photostream to help spot faces in all the noise - a spot of machine learning prior to it working smoothly. Now, if that's the case, it does depend on what's in the photostream...

      Let's hope it can tell if the owner is using it, as opposed to, say, the owner's dog sniffing at a picture-ad of dog biscuits that just popped up. There could be another Burger King or doll's house story involving Amazon orders for huge quantities of Bonio treats arriving at iPhone X owners' homes...

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Stick one in a fridge

    … and it will know when you run out of milk, cheese, whatever and order more.

    Well, isn't that usually gets recommended for this kind of "revolutionary" technology?

    1. onefang

      Re: Stick one in a fridge

      "… and it will know when you run out of milk, cheese, whatever and order more."

      Only if your food has been left in there for long enough to evolve a face.

  6. DrXym Silver badge

    Tech lurching from unnecessary use to another

    Kinect was premised on two very shaky assumptions.

    1. That people wanted a glorified EyeToy.

    2. That games that use motion controls are desirable and more fun that those played with regular controls.

    Neither assumption was correct. The EyeToy sold well as a peripheral but it didn't exactly set the world on fire. And motion controlled games tend to be terrible, limited to things like dance / fitness and dumb mini games.

    On top of that, Microsoft overpromised, pretending the system could recognize faces, track skeletons, even track individual fingers even of up to 4 people. Some demos like "Milo" merely suggested the system even had speech recognition, natural language processing and could recognize expressions and mood.

    Then when it was eventually crapped out it could barely recognize somebody flailing their arms around or pretending to be holding a steering wheel.

    Undaunted, Microsoft shoved an updated version into the XBox One, whether people wanted it or not and nearly killed their new console stone dead.

    So yeah.

    I don't see the tech being much use in the iPhone X either. It's there to justify the high price, not because it offers some substantial benefit. I suppose it's great you can unlock a phone by looking at the phone (cheaper phones have a similar feature), but the security is terrible and most people would still prefer to use a fingerprint or pin.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Tech lurching from unnecessary use to another

      Kinect was premised on two very shaky assumptions.

      1. That people wanted a glorified EyeToy.

      2. That games that use motion controls are desirable and more fun that those played with regular controls.

      We hosted a game at our museum where the player could "fly" Superted collecting points and powerups and defeating enemies. It used a PC-version Kinect which annoyingly didn't include the motorised tilt function present in the XBox version.

      The game was extremely sensitive to player position and attitude at start, often needed "re calibrating" and would be thrown by someone walking past behind the player (so we installed a wall).

      All that aside, visitors loved the thing and there were often queues to use it.


  7. Halcin


    You must learn to walk before you can run, and you must learn to crawl before you can walk.

    This technology is still at the "learning to crawl" stage, so, of course it's "crap".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Would apps be able to sneak a look at your face and read your emotions?"

    Years ago I went to a computer architecture conference where in a set of papers on power saving for PCs someone was proposing using feedback from the users responses to allow a PC to minimize power consumption by reducing clock speed until it detected the user was becoming unhappy with the performance. So, how long till we find Apple have added the "software update" that ensures old iPhones run just below the "happy with my phones performance" level to encourage the next upgrade :-)

  9. PhilipN Silver badge

    I'm A Believer

    Sigh. The El Reg resident sub-ed/DJ again with the primeval song references totally lost on proto-millennials -

    [ ]

    [ ]

    - but a resonant and entertaining distraction for those still breathing.

    "Why do we bother, Fawlty?" ... "Didn't know you did, Major."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm A Believer

      Sadly I suspect more people will be thinking of the end credits song from Shrek

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