Tech giant Apple has recently filed a patent for a technology that protects the user’s privacy by tracking their gaze.
The tech is referred to in the patent as “Gaze-dependent display encryption”, and relies on facial recognition to determine if the device owner is the one looking at the screen, and eye tracking to determine which segment of the screen the authorized user is viewing at the moment.
By identifying the authenticated user and by pinpointing where on the device’s screen the user is looking, the system would then know which areas of the screen to digitally blur (or ‘encrypt’) and which to keep legible, should any unknown or unauthorized faces appear.
The obscured segments of the screen will be manipulated using methods like text scrambling, color altering and image warping, in order to render them indecipherable to onlookers, while the spots on the screen being viewed by the user will remain untouched.
Apple’s patent follows similar features from other smartphone manufacturers, including Blackberry and its Privacy Shade feature, which was introduced in 2018.
With Privacy Shade, the user is able to reduce the display area to a limited part of the screen while blotting out the remaining content. Users can control the shape of the displayable portion, as well as the opacity of the obscured parts.
A year prior to Blackberry, HP introduced a version of the same sort of tech in its EliteBook x360, where by pressing a button on the laptop the screen became viewable only from directly in front of it, and obscured from any other angle.
It should be noted that Apple regularly files patents — as do many tech companies — and there is no guarantee this feature will ever find its way into a commercial product.