Apple Kicks Off 2014 With a Profusion of Biometric Tech Patents

Source: USPTO.govMany industry watchers hailed the debut of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5S Touch ID fingerprint scanner as a major advancement in the use of biometric authentication technology in mobile devices. However, it appears that Apple is already working on further developments in the biometrics security field. Here are eight recently published Apple patents uncovered by Patently Apple.

Patently Apple found a recently published patent titled, “Far-Field Sensing for Rotation of Finger.” The patent covered a method for fingerprint scanners to detect finger orientations at a distance of over two millimeters away. As stated in the patent, “Various processor components can be configured to produce individual oriented image swatches, based on the fingerprint image data and the orientation of the finger. Memory can be provided for storing the individual (e.g., oriented) image swatches, and to combine a plurality of swatches into a unified fingerprint image.”

This technology will likely be used to improve the capabilities of Apple’s existing Touch ID fingerprint scanner for the iPhone 5S or other devices. As seen in image above, one of the patent’s conceptual drawings shows an iPad with a fingerprint scanner. The patent filing also noted that the technology could be implemented in an iPod, television, MacBook, “or any other system or device adaptable to the inclusion of system architecture.”

A second patent uncovered by Patently Apple described a system that used biometric authentication and global positioning system information in order to track a device user. As stated in the patent abstract, “The electronic device acquires location information for the tracking report through a location awareness capability such as a global positioning system.

The electronic device acquires user identification information for the tracking report through a biometric scanning component, such as a finger print sensor or other device that senses biometric properties when a user is touching or in close proximity to the device.” Apple noted that the technology described in the “Biometric Receipt” patent could be used by a parent to keep track of a child or by the courts to track an individual’s compliance with “restraining orders or house arrest boundaries.”

A third patent uncovered by Patently Apple outlined a system for the “Automatic Association of Authentication Credentials with Biometrics.” The system would provide additional authentication security by requiring one or more biometrics from the user. According to the patent summary, “Such biometrics may include one or more fingerprints, retinal images, and/or other such biometrics.”

A fourth patent titled, “Biometric Capture for Unauthorized User Identification,” would use a device’s biometric authentication system to capture the biometric information of an unauthorized user. As noted in the patent claims, this captured information would then be transmitted and stored on another device.

A fifth patent titled, “Biometric Initiated Communication,” described a method that would allow a user execute a stealth command in an emergency situation by entering a particular fingerprint or sequence of fingerprints. As noted in the patent description, “in a situation where the device owner is forced to unlock or otherwise use his phone by an assailant, contacting emergency services in the conventional manner may not be practical.”

Finally, Patently Apple noted that Apple filed three other patents that cover various methods for speeding up the process of validating and enrolling a user’s biometric information. Although it is not known when Apple will begin using these patented technologies in its products, it appears that the California-based company will have many options when it is ready to expand its overall use of biometrics.

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