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Windows 10 to get biometric sensor support with ‘Windows Hello’


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Microsoft is trying to move beyond the password with Windows 10 using a new feature called Windows Hello. That’s the blanket term Redmond is using to describe a set of biometric identification technologies, including facial recognition, iris scanning, and fingerprint readers. These features will also be extended into the online world with Microsoft Passport to save you from ever typing a password again. Okay, maybe not ever, but hopefully less often.

When it launches later this year, Windows 10 will include software support for Windows Hello, but it sounds like you’re going to need some specific hardware to take full advantage of it. Fingerprint readers are well-established, so any computer mobile device that has the necessary hardware will be able to use the built-in Windows Hello security features. The face and iris scanning, on the other hand, are probably going to require a new computer or add-on.

The facial recognition engine is based on technology used in the Kinect Xbox camera. It relies on IR illumination to capture more points of reference on the face and operate in a wider range of lighting conditions. It can even see past a beard or makeup that might confuse other systems. Microsoft says the system is very good at only unlocking for you, but what about a photograph of you? The IR camera should also be able to tell the difference between a real face and the photo. By comparison, the Trusted Face system on newer Android phones can still be fooled by a picture of the owner.

Iris scanning will also require specialized hardware, but I imagine this will be less common in the consumer space. Device makers will be able to integrate front-facing IR cameras on phones and mobile devices that can scan irises as well as faces, but it will probably be an added expense most people don’t need.

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