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You can take pictures with the Google Pixel 4 face unlock IR camera

You can even record the flashing of another smartphone using 3D face unlock.

Published onDecember 31, 2019

The forehead on the Google Pixel 4 XL, including Motion Sense and 3D face unlock sensors.

The Google Pixel 4 packs 3D face unlock capabilities, using a combination of IR cameras, a dot projector, and a flood illuminator to scan your face.

It’s a pretty advanced feature compared to fingerprint scanning, even though the Pixel 4’s solution isn’t as secure as it should be. But did you know that you can actually take pictures with one of the phone’s IR cameras?

Yep, 9to5Google reports that you can snap infrared pictures with this camera by downloading the open-source HedgeCam 2 app from the Play Store. All you need to do is launch the app and tap the switch camera icon twice to switch to the IR view.

The app uses the IR camera on the left-hand side for pictures, but the outlet notes that there’s an interesting shadow effect when holding your finger over the right-hand side. This is presumably due to the flood illuminator being blocked.

Pictures and videos taken with the IR camera are limited to VGA resolution (640×480), so don’t expect fantastic results by any measure. It’s also rather awkward using this to record videos or take pictures of something other than yourself.

I did however manage to record the HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro sensors being activated for 3D face unlock — a process largely invisible to the human eye. Check it out in the GIF above, but do note that there are flashes here.

I also tried installing the app on the Huawei device due to it offering 3D face unlock (and therefore an IR camera), but the IR camera doesn’t appear to be accessible via this method.

It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen IR cameras and similar tech used for photography on smartphones though. We’ve seen the likes of CAT phones offer FLIR cameras for thermal imaging, allowing you to detect tiny variations in heat.

In any event, the ability to use the Google Pixel 4 IR camera in this fashion is pretty neat, even if it might not be very practical. Would you buy a phone with 3D face unlock? Give us your thoughts below.

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