Chromebooks with Face ID authentication may be just around the corner
It looks like Google could add face unlock and other camera-based interaction options to upcoming Chromebooks and Chrome OS. 9to5Google found evidence that the company is working on integrating a “Human Presence Sensor” that would allow for similar features like Windows 10 and 11’s Hello camera.
Most details are still murky as of now, but we can piece together which direction Google is headed. The Human Presence Sensor, or HPS for short, has already appeared in multiple Chromium Gerrit entries, with Google detailing that the sensor will enable a new eye icon in the taskbar. While it isn’t entirely clear what this icon will mean to users, it’s certain that Google will want to use it as some form of indication that the presence sensor is in use.
When looking at Windows 10 and 11’s Hello feature, a few possible applications come to mind. The sensor could be used in conjunction with biometric face authentication, speeding up the login process by detecting the presence of the owner walking towards their device. The sensor could also be used to keep the screen active while the owner is sitting in front of it, much like the Pixel and the Nest Hub proximity sensing works, too.
9to5Google further found evidence of future devices that could come with HPS. A commit shows Google testing the sensor with the “Zork” board, the board configuration used for the current generation of AMD-powered Chromebooks. In another code change, Google is seen testing HPS with “Brya,” which is the configuration for devices with the upcoming 12th-gen Intel processors. That still doesn’t mean that all upcoming Chromebooks will come with the required hardware to make presence sensing possible. Google could very well work with selected manufacturers only or might even plan to release another piece of hardware itself.
While none of this is hard evidence that some form of face unlock will really come to Chromebooks anytime soon, its introduction would make sense once HPS is available in Chrome OS. The features the sensor would enable are too closely in line with Microsoft’s Windows Hello capabilities as to not use it for authentication next to presence awareness, automatic screen locks, and more.