If you've used Face Unlock on the OnePlus 5T, you'll know that it is the one of the fastest biometric authentication systems available today. Unlike the Galaxy Note 8 — which uses an infrared sensor for scanning your irises — the authentication system on the 5T relies on the front 16MP camera and clever software tweaks. The feature uses over 100 identifiers to uniquely identify your face, and while it isn't touted to be as secure as the fingerprint sensor at the back, it doesn't get fooled by a photograph.
However, a report by MySmartPrice alleges that OnePlus' face unlock feature infringed on patents by SensibleVision, a company specializing in facial recognition and biometric authentication tech.
The report cites SensibleVision CEO George Brostoff, who claims that Face Unlock infringed on at least one of the company's patents — specifically its illumination patent:
We have not licensed our patents to OnePlus or their supplier. From the video on Forbes, they are likely infringing at the very least on our illumination patent.
Brostoff also said that this isn't the first time another company infringed on the illumination patent, and that SensibleVision notified "several companies" over the years. In the case of OnePlus, Brostoff said the company's legal firm is looking into the issue:
We have a legal firm that handles these type of matters, so I cannot comment more specifically.
Delving deeper into SensibleVision's claims, the illumination patent in question deals with using the display as a source of illumination for the camera:
A camera is used for providing images to the facial recognition software where the display operates in a first mode for displaying images to a user and in a second mode for illuminating the user's face for detection by the camera.
In essence, any device that uses a camera for biometric authentication and has a screen that can be used a light source infringes on SensibleVision's patent, as highlighted in the application:
It doesn't look like SensibleVision has filed a lawsuit against OnePlus yet, so we'll have to wait until that happens to get a better understanding of the company's claims.