Today it was learned, through a US Patent and Trademark Office filing, that Google has been granted a patent concerning the logging in of multiple users by facial recognition.
Typically, the granting of yet another tech patent wouldn't be extraordinarily interesting news. But given the fact that Google's latest patent relates to multiple user support, and the fact that code meant for multiple user support has been sitting right under our noses in AOSP for some time now, patent number 8,261,090 is definitely worth discussing.
Without quoting the entire 17,000 word filing, patent '090 essentially covers methods that allow a "computing device" to recognize one or more users' identities based on facial recognition, and then give them access to resources specifically assigned to them. Much of the patent explains the actual process of capturing information to confirm a user's identity, and it sounds – unsurprisingly – very similar to Android's existing face unlock methods.
Is the technology described in this patent headed for Android, though? No one knows, but it sure sounds like there's a possibility.
… Implementations can include one or more of the following features. For example, the camera can be physically integrated with the computing device. The computing device can include a phone. …
Regardless of where this patent ends up leading (or not leading), it's certainly interesting, and we can only hope that the functionality described makes its way onto our phones and into our hearts in a future Android release.