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Apple patent filing details new biometric authentication sensors for wearable devices

Designed to understand voice commands and silent gestures

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A new patent application filed in April by Apple has been published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, describing new biometric authentication sensors for wearable devices, Patently Apple reports.

Apple’s patent application notes the new sensors would be able to recognize user inputs like voiced commands or silent gestures.

These devices could be worn by users on their heads, and would use a self-mixing interferometry sensor to direct a beam of light toward a location on the user’s head.

The sensor would then pick up skin deformations or vibrations caused by voice, silent speech or head motion, then use these signals for biometric authentication or audio conditioning.

In the patent filing, Apple mentioned four particular embodiments of these sensors. The first one relates to earbuds, integrating a traditional microphone, or replacing it altogether with the self-mixing interferometry sensor, which would detect sound through vibrations.

A second embodiment refers to headphones detecting the user’s voiced commands or silent gestures from skin deformations in various locations of the user’s head, including the parietal bone, one of the temporal bones, one of the temporomandibular joints.

Thirdly, Apple said the self-mixing interferometry sensor could be integrated within an eyeglass frame to detect skin deformations next to the temporal bone.

A fourth and final embodiment relates to mixed reality applications and particularly visual display headsets.

These devices could feature a number of self-mixing interferometry sensors, capable of detecting user’s voiced commands or silent gestures from skin deformations in various locations of the user’s head.

In the document, Apple clarified these embodiments are intended as examples and are not exhaustive, hinting the company might have some other applications in mind.

The Cupertino-based company has been very active when it comes to biometric sensors in 2020.

Last April, Apple revealed a patent mentioning gaze control, long-range Face ID biometrics for smart homes, and in July, one about biometric heart monitor and depth mapping for gesture recognition.

More recently, the iPhone maker has unveiled a patent for a ToF depth camera system for improved face biometrics, showcasing its efforts in stepping up the development of sensors for both home and mobile devices.

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