Facial Recognition Now on Toshiba Satellites

If Toshiba has its way, fingerprint authentication is about to become passé. Toshiba Satellite laptops with Toshiba's "Fusion finish" (the Satellite U400, M300, A300, and P300 models) will all come standard with "Toshiba Face Recognition" software. Instead of logging in with a traditional typed password, Satellite users can get access to their systems by having their faces scanned by the Satellite's integrated webcam and then compared against a database of stored images of the users' faces. A press release from Toshiba stated:

“Toshiba prides itself on making laptops that stand out in the marketplace,” said Jeff Barney, vice president of marketing, Digital Products Division, Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. “With the addition of face recognition, the newly designed Satellite models have yet another great feature that showcases Toshiba’s passion for creating innovative technologies that are equally enjoyable to use.”

The Toshiba press release does not address, however, how secure or reliable the facial recognition software is. For instance, how frequently does the software provide false positives or negatives? What happens if you hold in front of the camera an actual-sized photo of the face of an authorized user? Even fingerprint authentication has its limitations--enough to the extent that many vendors who provide fingerprint technology advise against using it when security is of utmost importance. An Achilles Heel of fingerprint technology was discovered as far back in 2002--defeated with little more than Gummi Bears. Does facial recognition have similar limitations? A Toshiba spokesperson was unavailable for comment.