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Galaxy Nexus facial recognition doesn't recognize me when I'm drunk

Sonja Thompson recounts her experience with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus facial recognition software.

I'd like to start off this post with a couple disclaimers. First, I'm not a lush. A Samsung Galaxy Nexus was sent to Florida where I was vacationing over the holidays, so I could spend some time using it before writing a review. There were a few family gatherings, and wine was served. Not only does my family have excellent taste in wine, but I wasn't driving, so I enjoyed myself and imbibed.

The second disclaimer is that this isn't an official review of the Galaxy Nexus. Jason Hiner wrote a first impressions post, and Bill Detwiler cracked it open. There will also be plenty of review coverage as more of our tech bloggers get their hands on this device. However, this particular post is primarily about the Galaxy Nexus facial recognition, my interesting experience with the software, and the implications it could have on a larger scale.

So, the evening started with me showing off the phone's capabilities. As Jason mentioned in his post, Android 4.0 is really amazing, the display is crisp and beautiful, and Verizon's LTE 4G speeds are lightening fast. I had set the phone's security to Face Unlock, and so I passed the device around, letting everyone try to unlock it by looking at the forward-facing camera.

Now, I was pleasantly surprised that the phone was able to decipher me from my family members who truly do have similar facial features. My sister, for example, should have gotten in -- but instead, she received the message, "Sorry, don't recognize you." I took the phone from her, looked into the camera, and it unlocked right away. We did this several times, where a family member would receive the "Sorry" message, and then I'd look at it and immediately get in. Fun and quite amazing, right?

Well, my real amazement came about an hour or so later, after two glasses of wine (when you don't drink often, it doesn't take much). I was going to take some photos and video clips, but when I looked at the camera, it wouldn't let me in! I tried again. "Sorry, don't recognize you." My son told me to stop smiling, because I guess alcohol gives me an incredibly cheesy grin, but me trying not to smile didn't look like me either! Or perhaps my eyes were glossed over and wonky. Whatever the reason, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus wasn't budging.

The implications here are pretty great. For starters, this would completely eliminate any kind of drunk texting. Of course, you could always use the pattern or pin backup to unlock your phone, but the facial recognition feature could definitely still serve as a indication of whether or not you should drive home or call a cab. If your phone doesn't recognize you, I highly recommend the latter.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

21 comments
david.urano
david.urano

So the app does not recognize you when you have ahd a couple of drinks. That's not too bad. What if you are in an accident? bleeding? horrified? experiencing medical shock? heart attack? angry? fearful? It does not sound useful at all unless you are an un-emotional drone with clear skin, no glasses and are always perfect in any light!

ejkolkman
ejkolkman

I have witnessed many stupid acts committed over the phone by drunk people. Friends may not let friends drive drunk, but they sure will let you call your girlfriend and fall down laughing while you give her un-arguable proof that she should drop you right then and there.

jonrosen
jonrosen

First off, great article, made sense and was quite entertaining. As for the problem, what about someone with a cold, or even some (bad?) acne? If it's that sensitive to changes (given, sounds like you only did one or two pics for the phone to compare against) I could see issues arising. However a physical unlock (pattern, code, etc) would solve that, but every little slowdown can be huge to some people. Still, growing more and more impressed with what I hear. I look forward to see how it moves forward

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Those who were at the Gathering in 2010 may remember it. For those who weren't, that is a 17-year-old sherry cask scotch, to which Sonja added ice and :-& Sprite! If I didn't love her, her continued survival would have been in serious doubt... ;-)

jlwallen
jlwallen

See if it would be able to tell the difference between you and Starbuck! ;-)

arthurborges
arthurborges

My IdeaPad U160 came with such software as a poor man's equivalent for the sexy fingerprinter reader that makes you feel as important as an ICBM launch officer or Mossad operative, if only for no longer than it takes a little golfball of plutonium to go critical. First, it needed several scans of my face but to do that I had to take off my glasses. The built-in webcam also expected me to take off my glasses whenever I wanted into my system. At first, I thought it would be fun to have because I teach in China where you have very nosy students and the laptop threatens to photograph for you if you try to break into it with the wrong face or password but then you also have to have your face at the right tilt and the lighting should never be too much or too little. Fortunately CCleaner disappeared something in the facial recognition software so now when I power up, I am welcomed by this little bllue box with a xxhite X inside a red circle and I have to hit ESC before I can type in my little password like I used to do on my 80286 Toshiba decades ago. You can't stop progress, but if you don't watch out, progress can stop you.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Well the fact of the Matter actually is Sonja that you where Beta Testing the new device that will be available shortly. It was deliberately designed to look like a [i]Galaxy Nexus[/i] but in actual fact is specifically designed for several models of European Cars as an Integrated Portable Device to work through the Car's sound system for calls and to prevent Drunk Driving. It refuses to allow anyone access to the car let alone place them in a position to actually drive it. Oh and BTW in the Prototype you can Manually Unlock it but in the Production version there is no Override so you are locked out of your car till the device thinks you are fit to drive at least 1 week latter. :p You don't have Keys any longer it's this Phone that you use to access your Car and make it drivable. New Road Safety Device to prevent Drunks from driving and killing others who get in their way, and also prevent Upsetting people by Texting while under the Influence. ;) OH and best not tell anyone about this as it's a Secret of the German Auto Makers who are in the process of making the Smartest Cars on the Planet. This is just one of the New Road Safety Developments that we'll see integrated over the 2012 year. :0 Col

dcolbert
dcolbert

I always *knew* I was better looking when I'm drunk! "Who is this uncommonly good-looking person trying to get into your phone? It certainly cannot be you. Please send the regular homely user of this device back into my field of view to get access to this device, but you, good-looking, be sure to leave your number in my address book application"... ;)

JamesRL
JamesRL

Two glasses of wine? Cheap Date!!

Justin James
Justin James

... that the facial recognition isn't too good. :D J.Ja

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

what a girl's gotta do! If there's a "correct" way to do something, I typically try to mix it up a bit. ;) And thanks for the white zin this past year - much tastier! :D Love you too!!

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

I'm going to bring the phone to you today, Jack, so you can do a more formal review. But it would be great if you could check out that Face Unlock feature and report back your findings in this thread. :D

kemcoent
kemcoent

@Col, ur last comment was a joke, correct?

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

[b]CHOCOLATE[/b] And no one complains when you eat way too much of it. Not to mention there are no worries about spilling it over your Keyboard. :D Col

JamesRL
JamesRL

If Sonja is a two drink face recognition fail, what is Jack?

JamesRL
JamesRL

Next time I am in town.....

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

Jonno, YES! :-) The Galaxy Nexus does allow you to take multiple photos - in various lighting, with and without glasses - for more accuracy. Let's experiment! LOL!

Jonno-the-First
Jonno-the-First

Of course you could take your picture when having embibed for verification, so you could use it only when you have had a few drinks. That would make it mandantary to drink before the machine would let you in. It certainly would make for interesting commentary and even funnier articles.....Hic!