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Apple patents infrared vein recognition system

Categories Biometric R&D  |  Biometrics News

Apple has been granted a patent for a vein recognition system using an infrared transmitter and receiver, which could be applied to a user’s face, Apple Insider reports.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued the patent for “Vein imaging using detection of pulsed radiation” and published the application, which Apple originally filed on November 12, 2015.

Pulses of infrared light pass through the skin of the user, and are reflected by blood vessels within the examined area, according to the application. The reflected light is used to generate an image, which could be a 3D image if time-of-flight is used.

“Vein identification systems that are known in the art transmit infrared illumination through the user’s hand, and capture a resulting image in which the veins within the hand appear as dark or bright lines due to variations in the captured infrared intensity,” the application background says. “Hand vein authentication is considered to have a high level of authentication accuracy due to the complexity of the vein patterns in the hand. Because the vein patterns are internal to the body, they are difficult to counterfeit. Furthermore, vein imaging is contactless and therefore alleviates hygienic concerns that are associated with common systems that use fingerprints or handprints.”

Some of the patent illustrations depict the technology being used on a face, and it could be combined with FaceID to increase its ability to tell twins apart and detect mask-based biometric spoofs.

Apple Insider points out that the company files numerous patent applications, and frequently does not commercialize the ideas they describe. It also notes that by integrating new sensors, Apple could leverage the infrared capabilities of its TrueDepth camera array to implement vein recognition in a future product.

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