Apple has filed a new patent in Europe for a highly advanced biometric authentication system, and a key figure used in the patent filing suggests it’s intended for the Apple Watch.
The system is based on plethysmography, and essentially revolves around using light sensors to detect changes in the user’s blood flow. One light sensor emits light at a certain wavelength, while another does so at a different wavelength; both would be close to, or touching, the user’s skin. Based on how the different lights are reflected and absorbed, the system is able to map out the user’s vasculature in detail.
This is actually pretty much the system currently in use in the Apple Watch, and its reliance on light readings is the reason that some users with dark tattoos on their wrists aren’t getting accurate cardiac biometric readings. The twist on this new patent filing is that the system combines these light readings with motion detection, and both biometrics can be stored for later authentication. In other words, it sounds like a multimodal authentication system based on gesture and vascular biometrics.
Of course, it isn’t yet clear what exactly Apple intends to do with this, but it’s worth noting that a sequel to the Apple Watch is reportedly already in the works, and the company may be keen to enhance its authentication capabilities, both for security purposes related to Apple Pay and for use by third party app developers. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear enough that Apple remains very interested in biometrics in its mobile devices.
Source: Patently Apple