Apple patents: mask fix for face biometrics, gestures in video conferencing
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a total of 56 newly-granted patents for Apple, including one to adapt the company’s device biometrics to current user circumstances.
Among the documents, which were spotted by Patently Apple, is a patent describing mask detection capabilities for Face ID, and one potentially enabling individuals to use sign language or gestures in a video conference.
The first patent has been reportedly drafted by Apple to facilitate biometric user identification as many users continue to wear face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The document describes an automated ‘switch’ between a full-face facial recognition authentication process and partial face facial recognition authentication — the technology will attempt to operate the full-face facial recognition authentication process when certain facial features like the eyes, nose, and mouth, are visible, and switch to partial face recognition when it registers some of these facial features as at least partially occluded.
According to the patent’s text, Apple is training the partial face facial recognition authentication process using the same images as the full-face facial recognition one, but the iPhone maker added that some of the images may be cropped for use in training for the latter process.
The second biometrics-related patent Apple was granted last week refers to ‘techniques for visual prominence of participants in a video conference.’
The document mentioned applications related to situations where conference participants communicate using sign language or visual props.
The tool would generate an indication of a participant’s visual prominence in a video conference, encode a video stream of it, and then transmit it together with the visual prominence indication to a receiving device in the video conference.
The new Apple patents are only the latest ones USPTO approved in recent months.
In July, Apple saw the publication of a patent describing the integration of Touch ID biometrics in the power button, and another in September outlining technology for monitoring user biometrics in virtual reality environments. More recently USPTO also published an Apple patent highlighting new anti-spoofing capabilities for Face ID.