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Hello Face Yes Hello Face No

Last April, Lenovo sent me a couple of great loaner laptops. The Thinkpad Yoga X380 (i7-8650U quad core, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB NVMe SSD) is a great, compact 13.5″ traveling laptop. The Thinkpad X1 Extreme (i7-8850U 6-core, 32 GB RAM, 1+1 NVMe SSDs) is a 15″ brute that also travels nicely, too. In fact, it’s the fastest PC in my house right now. It beats out my homebrew deskop (Asrock Extreme7+ mobo, i7-6700 quad core, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB NVMe SSD plus lots more storage) except in the video department. I’m still learning the ins and outs of these two Lenovos, which is why I just learned this morning that the X380 lacks the right kind of camera for Windows Hello Face. The X1 Extreme, however, comes properly equipped for Hello Face. And that’s why I entitled this post “Hello Face Yes Hello Face No.”

How to Distinguish Hello Face Yes Hello Face No

The requirement for Windows Hello Face support adheres to the camera installed on the laptop in question. It must support infrared (IR) and belong to a specific device class. That class is known as the “Windows Hello Face Software Device” class. I guess that means it works with the built-in Windows Hello Face software. Thus, it can do facial recognition, Windows 10 style. How can you tell if your camera has the right stuff to handle Windows Hello Face? Look in Device Manager under the Biometrics heading. If you see a Hello Face entry, like the following, you’re good to go:

Of the two Lenovo laptops, only the X1 Extreme includes the all-important Hello Face entry under Biometric devices.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Working With Windows Hello Face

If your laptop (or other Windows-attached camera) supports Windows Hello Face, you’ll handle setup through the Settings apps. Navigate through Settings → Accounts → Sign-in options. At that point you should see Windows Hello face at the top of the options list. Click that option to go through facial recognition and registration. The whole process takes about 30 seconds, and requires that you sit in front of the camera so it can make a variety of key facial measurements. The software was smart enough to see that I wear eyeglasses, and asked me to go through the process a second time to “Improve recognition.” It worked!

Now, when I sit down in front of the X1 Extreme and fire up the machine, it automatically logs me in as soon as it recognizes my visage. I can still opt to use the fingerprint scanner, a PIN, or a password, but this is about as convenient and quick as login gets. I’m not sure it’s enough to justify the purchase of a new, suitably-equipped laptop all by itself. But it sure is a neat and fun feature.

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