It was a memorable moment in Pixar’s 2004 classic “The Incredibles,” one that seemed wildly futuristic at the time: Mr. Incredible picks up a wafer-thin tablet computer, and it scans his face to verify his identity before divulging his secret mission.

Thirteen years later, many slim phones and tablets unlock with the press of a thumb—and just this sort of mobile facial scanning is on the way.

Forget fiddling with passwords or even fingerprints; forget multiple layers of sign-in; forget credit cards and, eventually, even physical keys to our homes and cars. A handful of laptops and mobile devices can now read facial features, and the technique is about to get a boost from specialized hardware small enough to fit into our phones.


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