Forbes conducted an experiment where the author 3D printed his own head to test out the face-recognition technology on smartphones. The model was accurate to the minutest of details and had almost every detail captured on the model. The model was printed at Backface in Birmingham, U.K., where the author was put in dome-like studio contenting 50 cameras. The 50 cameras would then take a single shot and combine all images to make a full 3D image.
The 3D printed head was not a cheap affair as it cost £300 to make and was used to test four flagship Android smartphones and the smartphone that introduced facial recognition — the iPhone X. According to the experiment, all Android phones were unlocked using the 3D printed head.
“If you're an Android customer, though, look away from your screen now. We tested four of the hottest handsets running Google's operating systems and Apple's iPhone to see how easy it'd be to break into them. We did it with a 3D-printed head. All of the Androids opened with the fake. Apple's phone, however, was impenetrable.” Forbes said.
The Android smartphones in question were the Samsung Galaxy S9, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, OnePlus 6 and LG G7 ThinQ. Forbes wanted to put facial recognition on smartphones to test to see which device was the most secure. It was found that Android phones have been less secure than Apple's Face ID in the past and this test proves the notion. In the past, some of these facial recognition systems have been fooled with a picture however Apple's Face ID uses IR depth mapping to root out this problem.
Apple's Face ID even requires the user to pay attention to the screen in order to unlock the smartphone. The attention awareness technology alone may have been enough for the iPhone X to remain unlocked then the 3D printed head was put in front of it. Having said that, Apple's Face ID has been fooled in the past using a 3D printed mask that were more sophisticated than Forbes' head.