Apple patent application suggests skin texture pattern for biometric authentication

Apple engineers may have invented a new form of biometric authentication based on skin texture patterns as part of a patent application for wearables, Patently Apple reports.

A patent published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows an Apple Watch with a “wrist biometric sensor” which could include a plurality of biometric sensing pixels, and possibly a processor coupled to it. Components the application says could make up the biometric wrist sensor included an infrared (IR) thermal image sensor, possibly with a microbolometer, which measures electromagnetic radiation. It could also include an electric field sensor, or an optical image sensor, and could be included on either the device body or the band.

Apple claims in the patent that the IR thermal image sensor will improve the accuracy of image acquisition through hair, as skin texture cracks will generally register as warmer, and hair as cooler than the surrounding skin.

While skin texture features are not used for visual matching by humans, as fingerprints have been, the wrist biometric sensor may rely on features not discernable by people, and the processor may extract texture elements represent them abstractly for matching.

The patent was filed in Q2 2018, and names a pair of inventors who were part of AuthenTec before Apple acquired it to work on Touch ID, according to Patently Apple.

Apple has previously patented biometric technologies for its Watch including a novel method based on measuring blood flow. A Samsung patent recently published shows an in-display fingerprint or biometric iris sensor on a smart watch.

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