Blink to log in with your face

There's more to your Webcam than Chatroulette and Skype-powered confabs. Blink is a free program for tying your Windows log-in to your face, and it works pretty well, too.

Blink detects your face at your Windows login screen, but it won't work on x64 computers.

(Credit: Luxand)

There's more to your webcam than Chatroulette and Skype-powered confabs. Blink ties your Windows log-in to your face, supported by the facial-recognition algorithms of its publisher, Luxand. Luxand is best known for a facial-recognition SDK and search engine that it licenses to Web sites such as Universal Pictures.

Blink differs from competition like KeyLemon by offering fewer features, but for free. When you install the program, it will offer to run a wizard to help you set it up. The wizard will autodetect your Webcam, and give you a choice if you have more than one. After giving you a screen to click through, which serves to give you more of a chance to compose yourself for the scan, the program takes about 10 seconds to add your image to its database.

Luxand claims that the program is powerful enough to see through minor adjustments to your visage, including eyeglasses, facial hair changes, and even sunglasses. One is forced to assume that piercings and tattoos won't fool Blink, either. I did test the program with printed color photographs and high-resolution LCD images of my face, as well as with prescription glasses and sunglasses. Through those four tests, Blink was able to determine which ones were live and which were faked. Also noteworthy is that Blink took less than three seconds to register my face as real.

Blink supports multiple users, creates a log of those who try to access the computer, offers a "learning" convenience setting and a high security setting, and although it comes set to run at startup, that can be toggled off.

It has one major drawback: it only works on 32-bit computers. Considering that more and more new computers are coming out with Windows 7 x64, the lack of 64-bit support could be fatal sooner rather than later. It's for Vista and Windows 7 only, too. Sorry, XP users. However, for right now that's a problem that most Windows users probably won't notice. The program also doesn't allow your face to replace Web site logins, a logical extension of what it does.

Blink is simple in function, and a must-try for its novelty. Be careful, though, because you might just wind up keeping it for its effectiveness.

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