Apple Patent Reveals the Next Potential Step for Facial Recognition Technology

A new Apple patent published by the US Patent and Trademark Office and spotted by AppleInsider describes a method for streamlining the process of sharing photos to a well-defined group of people.


The patent, entitled “Systems and methods for sending digital images” details a service system that applies a facial recognition algorithm to distinguish individuals in a group photo. Following this, it automatically presents the owner with options to send the picture to a list of potential recipients identified through contact information in the phone. Of course, users can also associate contact information to identified faces manually.

In another scenario outlined in the patent, users can automatically receive images in which the system recognizes them. For this the system connects to a cloud service (see iCloud) and sends alerts to identified individuals. Currently iOS users have the option to share their photos with iCloud sharing, and invite people to join the album, but this would automate the process, though with the safeguard of optional restrictions.

The document also details the facial recognition technology, including options to connect with social networks. Facial recognition technology isn’t new for Apple, since we have seen it in the iPhoto apps, and now in the Photos app for Mac, which helpfully lists labeled and recognized faces in the Faces album. The most recent Apple patent appears a helpful and convenient step forward.