Opinion: Toshiba laptop face-recognition is a waste of tech time!

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jonathan-weinberg.jpgJonathan Weinberg writes…

So you’re buying a new laptop. Large hard disk, check! Fast processor, check! Windows Vista, well if I must! Face-recognition to stop unauthorised people from logging into it, blimey – what is this, Star Trek?

Well, that could be the newest addition to your techno-arsenal if you snap up one of
Toshiba’s latest notebooks, the Satellite U300, A300 or P300.

Not only are they full spec’d up to the nines, the most interesting bit of gadgetry inside
has to be the camera that matches your face to the one stored in the memory, before it’ll let you into the desktop.

And it’s also the most useless bit of gadgetry I’ve seen in a while.

When I was first demonstrated this, the PR guy trying to show us how it worked totally
failed to get access to his files.

Basically, it is meant to go thus. Take a snap of your face, and that image is stored on the laptop like a digital password. Lock the laptop up and when you next want to use it, instead of typing a memorable word, or pushing your finger onto a fingerprint reader, you take another shot of yourself that’s scanned against the one in the memory.

If it matches, you’re in! If it doesn’t, you’re buggered and have to type a password in to
gain entry. So tell me, what’s the point? At first glance it sounds a really cool idea. The kind us geeky peeps love to hear about and would love to boast to our friends that we have on our tech kit.

But in practice, it’s utterly useless. If it has a password as a back-up, I’d be quicker
typing that in than messing around taking images. And if it is meant to prevent people trying to hack the password, then it’s not going to if you must have one in case of emergencies.

The one cool thing it does do is take a picture of anyone trying to log in without the proper authorisation. So you can check which of your colleagues or friends/family has been trying to snoop on your stuff. But again that’s redundant if the laptop is stolen. You’ll never know who’s been trying to hack in, will you!

Besides, just imagine trying to match your face to it first thing in the morning when you
are all bleary-eyed and suffering from a big night out. I hardly have the capacity to see the screen let alone look pretty on it.

The laptops themselves are actually great, boasting neat designs, Harman Kardon speakers for top quality sound and a choice of three screen sizes and three processors.

As for the security, let’s face it, someone obviously didn’t look at the bigger picture when they designed it, did they?!

Jonathan Weinberg is a technology and gaming journalist who writes for The Sun, Tech Digest, and assorted other publications

Jonathan Weinberg

3 comments

  • i absolutely agree, i have an alienware laptop, and rather than taking a photo of you for security measures, it scans your bone structure and the second (not when you put it into sleep or whatever), the second you leave it goes into sleep automatically and will only log on if you either enter a password or have the same bone structure as the owner, so yeah alienware sure has improved on the concept but toshiba could use some upgrading in their face recognition security department

  • here is what this and fingerprint recognition allows you to do, have an extremely long password thats not a huge pain in the ass to type in.

  • It’s no more pointless than fingerprint recognition. If it were more intelligent and could use the camera to track the face shape and perhaps scan the iris I think it could be a useful funtion in time.

    Not least when you have multiple users on a family computer. You’d just turn it on, sit in front of it and it would log in to your personal account on the machine.

    You can forget your password, but you can’t forget your face.

    The implications for this and the web are vast, not least for online banking where you are expected to remember a string of garbled characters that even you couldn’t guess… let alone a third party.

    The most useless bit of gadgetry on the market today can fit in an envelope, the one and only selling factor it seems. Ideally marked: ‘Return To Sender’.

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