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Apple considers Dot Projector for use in distance, additional biometrics for Mac touch bar


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Back in early 2020, Apple submitted a patent application to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a redesign of the Dot Projector in its biometric Face ID camera to make it operational for both near and far-field distances, writes Patently Apple. When it was first developed, the dot projector shone 30,000 dots of light on the face.

“A switching circuit, implemented in silicon, for example, can be used to select the set of VCSELs to be actuated at any given time, depending on the type of illumination that is required,” Apple writes in the filing.

The patent describes improved devices that generate and project optical radiation, as well as the manufacturing steps required. Equipped with projection optics, the beams can be focused on creating a structured light pattern in a far-field distance, to then disperse it to project flood illumination. Apple does not specify the distance covered.

In some figures, the microlenses are not centered to enhance optical performance and for beam steering. The VCSELs (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers) will disperse flood radiation to the far field area for uniform distribution.

Another patent published this week involves adding new biometric capabilities to the touch bar for future MacBooks, the same publication reports. Integration scenarios include a desktop keyboard that may come with a trackpad, the Magic Trackpad and a separate Touch Bar with Touch ID fingerprint biometrics. So far, the only biometric factor mentioned for MacBooks was Touch ID.

The continuation patent is a mix of some 13 patents from as early as 2014, and includes 20 new patent claims that specifically cover future biometric integration of Face ID and iris scanners with Macs and Mac Pro Display. Based on the claims, the biometric sensors can be anything from fingerprint and facial detection to retina scanners.

It has recently been rumored that Apple has been looking into adding biometric facial recognition by installing TrueDepth cameras on machines running macOS Big Sur.

In July, the tech company was granted 50 new U.S. patents, including one for an advanced Face ID feature called “Evil Twin Proof,” which uses subepidermal imaging and face vein matching to improve biometric authentication.

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