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Apple patents illumination arrays for Face ID, MacBooks will have to wait

Apple patents illumination arrays for Face ID, MacBooks will have to wait

Face ID could build in a way to project a pattern of illumination during authentication to detect more types of biometric spoofing, according to a patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

This is one element of the new patent for ‘Biometric authentication techniques’ which relates to Face ID authentication and devices that collect biometric data for user authentication. Illumination arrays would work with one or more diffractive optics, and the illumination could support the capture of both two-dimensional and three-dimensional images.

The array would create a live hurdle by beaming a “pseudo-random” illumination pattern at the user at the moment of authentication making it much harder for bad actors to spoof a presentation. A similar approach is already in use by iProov.

No Face ID for MacBooks – yet

The latest MacBook Pro launch sees a model with a notch built into the top of a screen, just like on recent iPhone models. The 2021 MacBook Pros are the first to have a notch cutting into the screen as the bezel, which houses the webcam and light sensors, is reduced, forcing a relocation of the components. However, unlike on the iPhone or new iPad Pro, the laptop version does not include Face ID, or not yet.

The Touch Bar has also gone, but the Touch ID sensor has been relocated to the physical keyboard, continuing biometric authentication. Commentators suggest that the global shortage of chips may be the reason why Apple has not integrated the Face ID components.

Patently Apple has resurfaced its March 2020 coverage of two patents for notches coming to MacBooks and iMac.

Diagrams clearly showed the notch well ahead of the 18 October launch of this year’s line-up, and the patent application text explains the functionality: “the systems and techniques may also be applicable to capturing face gestures and emotions, video chatting, generating emoji, encrypting data, unlocking the computing device, supplementing passwords, differentiating different users, and the like.” Patently Apple suggests that it is just a matter of time until Face ID is added.

Meanwhile, developers have already devised apps to make the top of the screen black either side of the notch so that if effectively disappears from view.

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