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New Chromium update hints at Chromebook face unlocking

Hands-free Chromebook unlocking may be on its way

The secret is out about the Google Pixel 4’s Face Detection technology, a hardware upgrade designed to make the process of using your face to unlock a phone both more streamlined and more forgiving. Gone are the days of holding your phone at awkwardly elevated angles to unlock them; Google’s new technology can recognise your face even if it’s upside down.

Now comes serious speculation that Face Detection will be also brought to Chromebooks, starting with the hotly anticipated Pixelbook 2. The rumour comes from Chrome Unboxed, which has unearthed a Chromium update that makes a specific reference to Face Detection.

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Chromium – an open-source project – is an incubator of sorts for the ChromeOS software behind Chromebooks. So any mention of Face Detection in a Chromium update is exciting news, even if it falls short of an official confirmation.

The update in question references the face unlocking technology pretty specifically, reading: “This patch adds nodes for Face Detection (FD) unit. FD is embedded in Mediatek SoCs and works with the co-processor to perform face detection on the input data and image and output detected face result.” Jargon aside, the gist is clear: The team behind Chrome OS is looking to develop facial recognition as a firm feature of future Chromebooks.

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As for the Pixelbook 2, it was expected to launch last October, although remained conspicuously absent from Google’s 2018 lineup. We’d hazard an educated guess that it will make its debut this October – with the two-year interim period hinting at a considerable specs-and-features overhaul.

Meanwhile, the Pixel 4’s incorporation of Project Soli’s Motion Sense technology, allowing for gesture-based, hands-free interaction with the phone, is not likely to feature on Chromebooks any time soon. Regrettably, Chrome Unboxed reports, there has been no similar hint that Project Soli is ready for Chromebook integration.

We’ll be updating this page as and when we hear more information about Face Detection technology coming to Chromebooks, so be sure to check back in.

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