Understanding iPhone X Neural Engine Face Recognition Technology

iPhone X Face Recognition

Apple released iPhone X along with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on September 12.The highlight of the iPhone X is the integration of an Apple A11 bionic chip based on Neural engine technology coupled with support for face recognition. Commenting on the development, Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing examined the core technology behind the use of the facial recognition technology in the iPhone X. It includes a dedicated neural engine technology based Apple A11 chipset. Moreover, the iPhone X ships with an M11 motion coprocessor for ultimate gaming experience.

Addition of TrueDepth camera

The facial recognition technology is designed with the new TrueDepth camera mechanism paired with an infrared camera, flood illuminator, dot projector and front camera. The iPhone is designed in such a way that it detects your face with the flood illuminator. The infrared camera captures the relevant IR image and the dot projector delivers to over 30000 invisible IR dots.

Apple has used the IR image and the dot pattern and is pushed via the neural networks, which creates a mathematical model of your face. The model is then cross-checked with the one stored set up earlier. The purpose is to verify whether there is any match and ultimately it unlocks the handset.

Eliminate spoofing attacks

According to Schiller, the neural technology enabled with the Apple A11 processor have been designed in such a way to avoid spoofing attacks. There are reports that the Galaxy S8 facial recognition can be easily fooled. The Cupertino-based tech company has worked with professional mask makers and artists in Hollywood to enable protection against attempts to combat the Face ID.

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He added that the chances of unlocking the Face ID using fake profile is only 1 out of 1,000,000. The data is stored internally inside the iPhone X in a secure enclave provided inside the handset. Moreover, the processing is carried out locally on the handset. The only intervention from the users comes during the unlock time.

Enhanced Animoji functionality

Apple has integrated the first ever neural engine directly into the Apple A11 chip in a bid to process the neural networks on the phone itself. The engine is a pair of processing cores designed to handle specific machine learning algorithms, which in turn, boost the performance of the not only Face ID but also Animoji and augmented reality apps. According to Apple, the newly released Apple A11 processor will be capable of running 600 billion operations per second.

Privacy protection

By integrating AI-centric hardware on the device, the privacy of users will be protected to a large extent because the company sends fewer data to the servers. If the Face ID related data are delivered to the servers then there will be concerns about the privacy. Moreover, the iPhone X will be able to handle complex tasks without a data connection.


The launch of the iPhone X is a step in the right direction since the tech industry requires access to specialized hardware to handle AI workloads. According to sources, Google has already designed prototypes for the two generation of processors, which could be used with the data centers. The company also released Tensorflow Lite, which is optimized for use with smartphones.

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To recall, Huawei also integrated a Neural Processing Unit in the Kirin 970 processor. According to the company, the Kirin 970 chipset would be able to handle tasks such as image recognition 20 times faster than a conventional processor.

The iPhone X provides amazing possibilities to the table. Even though the Face ID demonstration failed on the stage, the company is gearing up to convince customers about the real benefits of the phone. The real question is do we need a smartphone with face recognition capabilities when there are other alternative authentication measures available.

Is there any assurance from the company as to whether the Face ID system will work with the iPhone X without any problem? We don’t think the Face recognition authentication will help in improving the productivity of the users. We spoke to few people who are involved in the software engineering field and they are of the opinion that the term “Bionic” and “neural” are just a marketing gimmick. It remains to be seen as to whether the upcoming iPhone X will be able to perform as per the expectations than the standard iPhone 8 series.

Anand Narayanaswamy is the editor-in-chief of Netans. He was recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 9 years (2002 to 2011) and currently part of MVP Reconnect program. He is also part of the prestigious ASPInsider program. Anand has published several articles and reviews related to various software and hardware products for various software and technology related websites. He is also active on social media and also participates as an Influencer for various brands. Anand can be reached at admin@netans.com

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