Face IDSource: Rene Ritchie/iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple has published a patent that could use Face ID to detect the orientation of a device.
  • It might one day mean your iPhone could establish your device orientation using your face.
  • It would mean you no longer need orientation lock to stop your iPhone freaking out whilst lying down or in bed.

An Apple patent published Thursday, April 2, has revealed technology that could solve the problem of using your iPhone or iPad whilst lying down.

The patent is titled 'USING FACE DETECTION TO UPDATE USER INTERFACE ORIENTATION' and its abstract states:

An orientation of an application user interface (e.g., text and/or content) on a display of a device may be determined by an orientation of the device relative to gravity. In situations where the orientation of the device relative to gravity does not provide a confident or accurate orientation for the application user interface, orientation of the application user interface may be determined from face orientation data. Face orientation data may be obtained from a face detection process operating on images of the user captured during a facial recognition process or during an attention detection process.

The patent notes that often sensors "cannot accurately or confidently determine the orientation of the device relative to gravity and the device will not change or update the orientation of the content to the proper orientation for the user or will update the orientation incorrectly". No doubt you've experienced this whilst using your phone lying down or trying to unlock your phone with Face ID from a funny angle, or whilst its on a flat surface.

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The solution would use face orientation data, obtained from Face ID, to determine not only the position of the phone but that position relative to you:

In certain embodiments, face orientation data obtained from a face detection process is used to determine or update the orientation of an application user interface (e.g., text and/or content) being displayed on a display of a device. The face detection process may operate on images of the user captured during a facial recognition process or an attention detection process being operated by a facial recognition network (e.g., an image signal processor network). The face orientation data may be used in situations where the orientation of the application user interface is not confidently or accurately determined by motion of the device relative to gravity.

This could mean that if you're using your phone lying down, in bed, or at a slightly funny angle for whatever reason, it could use a picture of your face to determine what orientation the device should be in. This would of course, stop your iPhone switching to landscape mode whilst you lie in bed and reduce the need for orientation lock.

As a patent, it's just an idea at this stage, but boy do we need this.

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