Apple files palm vein biometrics patent for enhanced authentication

Apple is looking into palm biometrics for user authentication, as Touch ID and Face ID alone no longer suffice for the tech company, reports Apple Insider.

According to the patent published today by the US Patent & Trademark Office but filed in January, Apple gives an overview of its innovative idea to improve user authentication on all products. The approach is to integrate technology similar to Touch ID that analyzes palm veins through multiple screen layers, rather than authenticating users based on the shape of their hand.

Screen layers may include a substrate, a photodiode layer on the substrate, and either “a narrowing field of view layer above the photodiode layer” or “a focusing layer above the photodiode layer,” reads the patent. In-screen detectors would work concomitantly with the Face ID camera for to ensure authentication from multiple biometric points.

Contactless biometric detectors embedded on the screen would compare palm vein data, while the photodiode layer maps the palm veins with infrared light. Apple wants to integrate more biometric identification technology to properly identify a person “while performing another task.” Palm crease data can also be scanned and combined with vein data to deliver more accurate results, argues the patent, and hand movement can be detected to identify the area of the palm being scanned.

Apple claims the sensors can even be used to monitor health problems that could be caused by palm or vein swelling or blockages, which is why it is considering integrating similar palm analysis sensors in Apple Watch or the Apple Watch band.

According to the patent abstract, “An electronic device may include a display layer including light transmissive portions and non-transmissive portions. The electronic device may also include a palm biometric image sensor layer beneath the display layer and configured to sense an image of a user’s palm positioned above the display layer based upon light reflected from the user’s palm passing through the light transmissive portions of the display layer.”

It further explains that “The electronic device may further include a controller configured to capture image data from the user’s palm in cooperation with the palm biometric image sensor layer and determine a surface distortion of the user’s palm based upon the image data. The controller may also be configured to perform a biometric authentication of the user’s palm based upon the image data and the surface distortion.”

Apple has been in the news recently not only because of its annual product release, but also because of a number of patents announced, including skin and hair texture authentication for easier device unlocking, advanced biometric facial recognition system for iMac, and an augmented reality or virtual reality headset with sensors for facial expression recognition, eye movement tracking, hand gesture recognition, and possibly biometric user authentication.

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