Forbes recently challenged a variety of smartphone face-recognition systems with a 3d printed head modeled after the author’s head.

The head was printed at Backface in Birmingham, U.K., where I was ushered into a dome-like studio containing 50 cameras. Together, they combine to take a single shot that makes up a full 3D image.


The final model took a few days to generate at the cost of just over £300. With it, the author tested it out against four Android smartphones and the iPhone X. All Android phones tested were able to be unlocked with the fake 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.

The Android phones tested included the LG G7 ThinQ, Samsung S9, Samsung Note 8 and OnePlus 6.

It’s been long known that many implementations of facial recognition amongst Android phones have been less secure than Apple’s Face ID system. Some of those face recognition systems have been fooled with simple photographs. Apple’s Face ID, however, also includes IR depth mapping and attention awareness technology. The attention awareness alone may be enough to explain the inability for a static 3d printed head to unlock the iPhone X. That said, the iPhone X’s Face ID has been fooled in the past with more sophisticated printed 3d heads.



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