This 3D-Printed Head Fooled High-End Androids, But Not iPhone’s Face ID

3d Printed Head Face Id Android Credit: Forbes
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Apple’s 3D facial recognition and user authentication platform for iPhone and the all-new iPad Pros, Face ID, is not only the fastest, most accurate and advanced protocol in use today but, even despite the myriad of Android-makers’ bids to replicate its biometric security prowess on their own devices Face ID remains the clear leader in its class.

This was recently corroborated by Forbes’ cybersecurity writer, Thomas Brewster, who reportedly plunked-down around £300 ($340.50) to have professionals construct a 3D-printed model of his head for the sole purpose of testing it against several Android-based facial recognition protocols and Face ID.

Making the Mold

“The head was printed at Backface in Birmingham, U.K., where I was ushered into a dome-like studio containing 50 cameras,” Brewster explains of the intricate and elaborate mold-making process, noting that the dozens of cameras combine to capture a single exposure comprising the full 3D image. 

The image is then uploaded using Backface’s advanced editing software to construct the model via a 3D printer, which “builds up layers of a British gypsum powder,” the author continues.

3d Head Face Id
Forbes

“Some final touch-ups and colourings are added, and the life size head is ready within a few days, all for just over £300,” he notes. “You’re then the proud owner of an uncanny, almost-spectral version of your own visage.”

Putting It to the Test

With his expensive but nonetheless realistic-looking 3D head model in hand, the author and his colleagues tested it against the camera-powered biometric security platforms of four high-end Android smartphones — LG’s G7 ThinQ, Samsung’s Galaxy S9, Galaxy Note 8 and OnePlus 6, as well as Apple’s TrueDepth camera/Face ID-equipped iPhone X — to see whose reigns supreme.

Unsurprising, especially to anyone who owns or has ever used an iPhone X, the author notes that all four high-end Android devices were able to be unlocked with only his fake 3D-printed head — wheres Apple’s iPhone X was “impossible” to trick in the same fashion.

Breaking Down the Findings

In its coverage, Forbes points to a number of interesting disparities that appear to exist between the various embodiments of Android-based facial recognition — although the author ultimately concedes that given the numerous instances of these Face ID-wannabes being fooled in the past, that they’re overall “less secure” then Apple’s Face ID.

We’ve also seen one or two, isolated instances where Face ID was fooled, too, using advanced and intricately-crafted 3D face models — but there’s no denying, especially in the wake of these latest findings, that Face ID is still years ahead of its closest competition.

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