Google Chromebook could be about to get a long-awaited security feature

‘Human Presence Sensor’ unlocks the possibility of facial biometric authentication

Chromebook
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

New reports suggest Google is working on Human Presence Sensors (HPS) for its Chromebooks, which could bring snazzy new features like face unlock and more to its range of budget-friendly Chrome OS laptops. 

Facial recognition has long been supported on Windows through Windows Hello, enabling users to securely unlock their devices through facial biometric authentication provided their device has a compatible camera. If true, the news could be an important trigger that ushers in similar moves from Apple, which is yet to include any sort of Face ID-type feature on its MacBooks. 

9to5Google first spotted evidence of the Human Presence Sensor, which could provide Chromebooks with similar unlocking functionality to Windows Hello. Though information is still pretty scarce for the time being, the news appears to fit with recent open-source Chromium Gerrit Entries, which outline some form of new eye icon in the taskbar. Presumably, this will be used in some way to indicate the presence of the Chromebook user. 

The Chromium repositories, which is where Google tinkers with Chromium code before it arrives at the Chrome browser and Chrome OS, also suggest that Google may look to add features such as automated locking where the Chromebook automatically locks itself in the absence of anyone being detected in front of the screen.

New ways to access Chromebook

Besides this, there are several other applications for a Chromebook-based face unlocking feature, where the sensor could be used in concert with biometric face authentication, accelerating other parts of the login process. More, the sensor could also be used to “keep the screen active while the owner is sitting in front of it", much like the Pixel and the Nest Hub proximity sensing works, too. And, as above, once the owner has gone, the reverse happens.

Budget-friendly Chromebooks getting this kind of tech is exciting as biometric authentication is usually the preserve of the more expensive models on our best laptop list. While we wait for more info to bolster any speculation, we've curated a selection of the best Chromebook and best student Chromebooks to help you pick the best device for your hard-earned cash.

Luke Wilson
Luke Wilson

Luke covers all things tech at T3. Disc golf enthusiast, keen jogger, and fond of all things outdoors (when not indoors messing around with gadgets)