A newly published Apple patent application suggests that an unexpected biometric modality could be on its way to Mac computers. The patent application was originally filed with the European Patent Office in 2017, and, as Patently Apple reports, expands the number of features that could potentially be delivered through the Mac Touch Bar from 12 to 106.
The most noteworthy of those new claims concern the addition of biometric capabilities to the Touch Bar. That includes Apple standards like Touch ID and Face ID, as well as a more unusual reference to a retinal scanner. Retinal scanning is a relatively uncommon biometric modality, and is often confused for other forms of eye biometrics like iris recognition.
Of course, there’s never any guarantee that an IP concept will become a consumer product. Apple doesn’t have to move forward with something that was only mentioned in a patent, so it’s possible that the company was simply covering its bases when filing the application.
It would be a bit surprising to see retinal scanning turn up in MacBooks or the Magic Keyboard, but Apple has broken with conventional biometric wisdom in the past. The tech giant pivoted from Touch ID to Face ID even as competitors like Samsung have continued to pursue fingerprint recognition, and has continued to work on improvements to the facial recognition platform in the months since. This latest patent suggests that Apple is still willing to chart its own way forward when it comes to the biometric features in its products.
Source: Patently Apple