RealFace's Chief Technology Officer Gidi Littwin shows how the system works. RealFace's Chief Technology Officer Gidi Littwin shows how the system works. RealFace's Chief Technology Officer Gidi Littwin shows how the system works. (Photo: YouTube)

New Apple tech can unlock your iPhone with a selfie

Cupertino company expands its holdings by acquiring facial recognition startup.

When iPhones were first introduced, the only way to unlock one was to type in a 4-digit password. As the phone evolved, Apple eventually added a touch button that read your fingerprint. Now the U.S.-based tech giant is adding a new way to authenticate users: a selfie.

News broke this weekend that Apple was acquiring an Israeli firm called RealFace that specializes in facial recognition technology. The startup was founded in 2014 by three Israeli entrepreneurs: Adi Eckhouse Barzilai, a graduate of Columbia University in New York and the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel; Aviv Mader, an alumnus of Tel Aviv University; and Gidi Littwin, also an alum of Tel Aviv University. You can meet them in the video below:

Using the technology, an iPhone user would point the camera at their face, the sensors would recognize the owner and unlock the phone. Rumors of such a technology being added to iPhones have been swirling since 2015.

Being that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple is working tirelessly on making a big splash with the new model, which is expected to be unveiled this fall. In addition to the facial recognition technology, there are also rumors that the new phone will feature a bendable screen and might completely do away with the home button.

The iPhone 8 is partly being developed at Apple's 180,000-square-foot R&D facility in Israel. This proximity should help the dozen employees of RealFace integrate smoothly into the team. Apple has three offices in Israel, totaling more than 1,000 employees.

Adi Eckhouse Barzilai is the co-founder and CEO at RealFace.Adi Eckhouse Barzilai is the co-founder and CEO at RealFace. (Photo: Linkedin)

The RealFace deal marks Apple's fourth acquisition of an Israeli startup – Anobit in 2011, PrimeSense in 2014, LinX Computational Imaging in 2015 and now RealFace in 2017. With this continued expansion in Israel, it should come as no surprise that Apple appointed Israel-born Johny Srouji to Vice President of Hardware Technologies. Srouji, a graduate of Israel's Technion Institute of Technology, will be leading "all custom silicon architecture and development," and will be responsible for "many of Apple’s industry-leading devices," according to an Apple news release.

Apple's development center in the city of Herzliya near the Mediterranean metropolis of Tel Aviv is its largest outside of the United States. And according to the company, more than 6,000 iPhone app developers also reside in Israel.

An architectural rendering of the O2 office park in Herzliya, home to Apple's Israel R&D offices.An architectural rendering of the O2 office park in Herzliya, home to Apple's Israel R&D offices. (Photo: Courtesy Yashar Architects)

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