When it comes to 3D facial recognition technology, Apple beat Samsung to the punch with the iPhone X and its Face ID feature. However, there has been chatter that Samsung will implement a similar feature into its next generation Galaxy handset, presumably the Galaxy S10 and/or the Galaxy S10+. Lending some credibility to the rumors is the discovery of a patent application that covers the necessary technology for this type of biometric security.
The patent application was approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) late in the second quarter of 2018, according to Patently Apple. It lays out the details for a biometric camera that can be integrated into a mobile device and used to scan the viewer's iris through the front-facing camera. The patent also discusses optional support for a range of related technologies, including proximity sensing, a night vision camera, a 3D time-of-flight sensor, eye position and gaze tracking, and structured light for 3D sensing.
This is something Samsung has envisioned for several years now, as the patent application was filed back in 2014. That being the case, it gives Samsung a retort to anyone that says it is merely copying Apple and its Face ID feature, despite the general similarities and being late to market with its own implementation of 3D facial recognition capabilities.
Samsung also notes in its patent application several challenges that exist. They include ambient illumination (being able to operate in sunlight), motion blur (a user shaking his or her hands while holding the smartphone and trying to scan their iris), depth of field at close distances, the added cost and space required to implement a biometric sensor, and a limited field of view.
They are all valid concerns, though obviously the technology in some form already exists. It seems a foregone conclusion that Samsung will implement 3D facial recognition at some point, we just can't say if it will actually be in the Galaxy S10 and S10+, or will come even later.