Passwords could become a thing of the past as firms such as Apple develop face-recognition software to let users access their smartphones, tablets and laptops.

The technology scans the face that is looking at the screen, picking out key features such as the distance between the eyes, the size of the nose or the shape of the lips, then comparing them to a stored image, the Apple Insider blog says.

Hi-tech firms are racing to rescue users from the need to remember a growing store of passwords to access their technology.

Some gadget manufacturers already include fingerprint pads and recognition to help improve security. However, both Apple and Google are understood to be working on smartphones that go a step further and combine fingerprints with image recognition.