Wednesday, November 22, 2017

iPhone X Face ID Doesn't Work In The Operating Room


Well this is one way to discourage anesthesiologists from looking at their smartphones all the time. As you probably already know, the new iPhone X dispenses with the old reliable home button with its fingerprint sensor and instead uses Face ID. Now instead of using your trusty fingertips to conveniently unlock your phone, the phone recognizes your face to unlock itself. Apple claims it is orders of magnitude more secure than the old Touch ID.

After using my iPhone X for a few days, I find that Face ID is usually reliable and incredibly fast when it works. However there are two locations where the technology has difficulty functioning properly. They are also unfortunately two areas that I use my phone pretty regularly. One is in my car. The dashboard mount on my car has to be pointed exactly at my face for the phone to unlock. Even then it doesn't always work. Since the phone is in the center of the dash and slightly below eye level, and not directly in front of my face which would obviously be a driving hazard, it regularly doesn't recognize me. I wind up having to pick up the phone to type in the passcode since it is difficult to type in a string of characters on a glass screen in a moving car that is off to the side of your visual field. The worse alternative is if I awkwardly hold the phone directly in front of my face to unlock it while driving which is illegal here in California. Apple is making a criminal of me while I'm using their product.

The second more serious issue is in the operating room. This really should come as no surprise but it is still incredibly annoying. When you wear a mask in the OR, your brand new, very expensive, iPhone X doesn't recognize you at all. I can't really blame the phone for not being able to tell who I am under the mask while wearing a surgical cap. Sometimes even I have trouble recognizing people when they're wearing masks. Every time I punch in my passcode to unlock my iPhone I wish the X had the ability to unlock with either Face ID or Touch ID. How difficult would it have been to put in a fingerprint sensor somewhere on the phone like what Samsung Galaxy S8 has?

So now when I have the phone sitting flat on the anesthesia machine writing desk, I have to pick it up to either type a passcode or look into the Face ID if I'm not wearing a mask for a procedure. This is much more cumbersome than just pressing my finger on the home button with my old phone to instantly check messages and notifications.

Every new technology comes with adjustments and growing pains. The Face ID advancement seemed like a panacea for convenience and security. Unfortunately it will take some getting used to as I have to readjust my routine just to unlock my phone.

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