So I’ve been using this Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for just over a week so far, and I’m mostly in love with it.
But the most delightful part is a huge surprise: Windows Hello, a Windows 10 feature that lets you sign in with your face.
On the face of it (pun intended), facial sign-in seems like one of those too-good-to-be-true features. But it actually works! Almost all the time. As long as you’re using a computer that supports it, anyway.
But, seriously, check this:
About a second later:
It doesn’t work on all computers — the Surface Pro 4 is probably the highest-profile machine with the Windows Hello feature, but any laptop or tablet with an Intel RealSense camera, including certain models from Lenovo, Acer, Dell, Asus, and HP, will also work with Windows Hello.
That Intel RealSense camera uses its stereostopic infrared technology to read the shape of your face, the colour and orientation of your eyes, and all kinds of other distinguishing features, and uses that raw data to tell who’s in front of the machine.
Actually getting it to recognise your face is super simple. Go to Settings, Accounts, Sign-in Options, and look for Windows 10 Hello.
From there, just look at the camera for about a minute:
If you wear glasses, Microsoft recommends you go through the process twice, once with and once without, just to improve recognition.
Windows Hello isn’t 100% foolproof. A couple of times, it had trouble finding me when I tried logging in while walking around with the Surface Pro 4, or when I was using it as a tablet and looked straight down at the camera.
But when I was actually sitting still and using the Surface Pro 4 as a laptop, it’s basically batting a thousand.
In the future, some apps will even let you sign in with your face, the same way you can use Apple’s TouchID to use your fingerprint with iPhone apps. Microsoft’s forthcoming Lumia 950 and 950XL phones, running Windows 10 Mobile, will also get a version of Windows Hello. And if you’re desparate to give it a shot, Intel sells a standalone, USB RealSense camera for $US99 that should get you started on any Windows 10 machine.
Microsoft promises on its website that it doesn’t store any photos of you anywhere for this service. Really, all it’s doing is taking a “fingerprint” of your face, Microsoft says, that makes it all but impossible to fool.
Still, if you’re worried, Windows Hello has a feature you can enable that requires you to shake your head a little so it can get a clearer scan and make sure that you’re actually you.
It’s not perfect. But if the first version of Windows Hello works this well, I’m excited to see what’s next.
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