Body-detection security features may be coming to a Chromebook (opens in new tab) close to you.
A recently discovered page on the Chromium Gerrit (opens in new tab) website reveals body detection is underway for a Chromebook laptop codenamed “Crota”. Gerrit is a collaboration tool for software developers to come in and review each other’s work, and in this case Google’s Chromium projects.
Google has shown interest (opens in new tab) in the past with “integrated sensor technologies for more personalized experiences” and body detection could be the fruits of that labor.
Not much is known about how Google plans to implement this security feature or how robust it will be. We’ve reached out to Google to see if it would like to comment or provide information about this project, and we’ll update this post if it responds. However, we can look at other examples of body detection and paint a picture of what Google could do.
Advances in Security
Body detection, also known as human presence detection, is a feature that allows a device to see if a person is directly in front of it. You can see a demonstration of this technology at YouTube by Lattice Semiconductor (opens in new tab)† It shows a computer detecting several men in front of the camera.
This technology is mainly used for security or quick logins via facial recognition. For example, Lenovo has body detection in several of its laptops, such as the ThinkPad X1 Nano where it locks the computer if the user walks or turns away from the screen. Some ThinkPad models sport PrivacyGuard (opens in new tab) that warns you if someone is looking over your shoulder and looking at your screen.
For fast logins, body detection already exists in the form of biometric security. Many phones have fingerprint recognition readers on their backs. And there are laptops out there like the Surface Pro 8″, which support facial recognition via Windows Hello. Not only that, Chromebooks with face unlock have been bullied for about three years now.
It is also worth pointing out that specialized website Chrome extracted (opens in new tab) has reported in the past that Google is also working on adding “snooping detection” to Chrome OS.
Further details about “Crota” hardware are unknown. No one even knows who the manufacturer will be, but it could be Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Wistron. You can see proof of this if you look at the Gerrit page (opens in new tab) for the body detection feature, where an email from Wistron is listed in the “unsubscribed by” row.
Chrome extracted (opens in new tab) claims that if Wistron is mentioned it could mean that Dell is involved according to previous Chromium Gerrit pages, but this is circumstantial evidence at best. We won’t know until more information is discovered or leaked. If you’re interested in Chromebooks, Slice Mag recently launched a list of the best before 2022.