Google confirms Pixel 4 face unlock feature works while user’s eyes are closed

Posted at 7:33 PM, Oct 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-20 21:33:14-04

One of the major security features of the new Google Pixel 4 smartphone is that it can be unlocked through facial recognition, but a new BBC report found that the tool can be used even if a person’s eyes are closed.

The report states that its journalists were able to unlock a Pixel 4 phone multiple times using the Face Unlock feature while their eyes were shut.

This could potentially give someone other than the owner access to the device.

Apple’s iPhone uses similar tech, but it does not work if someone’s eyes are closed and can also be told to only unlock if the user is paying attention to it (looking in the phone’s direction).

“The obvious issue seems to be that you could use it when someone is sleeping or even dead,” said Nasir Memon, a professor and founder of NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s cybersecurity program.

Although Google did not say it was immediately fixing the issue, it did note that this feature is designed to get better over time with software updates.

Google warns on its Face Unlock support page that the feature could be misused.

The tech company recommends storing the phone in a front pocket or a handbag and in what it calls”unsafe situations” Google recommends turning off face unlock entirely.

Until a fix is in place, users can turn on “lockdown mode” in the settings to require a PIN, a pattern, or a password instead.

The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL start shipping on October 24th, 2019.