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Biometric patents and possibilities: Apple universal remote to AR/VR headsets

Biometric patents and possibilities: Apple universal remote to AR/VR headsets

A flurry of patent news and design speculation cover a variety of biometric possibilities for future Apple products, from new ways to hide fingerprint and possibly face biometrics scanners under the screen, to sensors monitoring wearer gestures for upcoming AR/VR headsets and to authenticate the user, and a remote control with a Touch ID sensor to unlock devices in the home.

Apple wins patent for possible remote control, child lock with biometrics

Patently Apple has spotted two new patent awards to Apple. The first is for adding Touch ID to a remote control, for Apple TV and potentially for other smart home devices.

The patent awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) describes a remote-control device that would have a Touch ID button and would collect biometric data wireless via infrared, visible light, sound, Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, radio and power line transmission. The biometrics could authenticate purchases through the TV such as paid-for content.

The descriptions include versions with multiple fingerprint sensors to identify a user via multiple fingers.

Another example sees fingerprint and vein imaging being used, either independently or collaboratively.

The device could act as a child lock and this could be applied for powering up kitchen appliances. The biometrics used could change over time, such as facial images, palm prints, retina scans, and gesture patterns, according to the patent document.

“It’s important to not get caught up in how a next-gen Apple TV remote looks as it’s not a design patent, it’s simply a utility patent conveying the delivery of a biometrics system being included with a remote,” notes Patently Apple.

The US$3 trillion company has started to put its Touch ID in more places, such as peripheral computer keyboards which have now gone on sale.

Optical fiber under-display tech for fingerprint capture, device communication

The USPTO has also published a patent application from Apple for a technology which would go beyond the use of optical emitters under a display to capture biometrics to using optical fibers behind the display to capture the data at much higher accuracy rates and to transmit data between devices, reports Patently Apple.

The invention appears to sidestep the problem with under-display sensors losing almost all of optical transmission, by routing electromagnetic radiation from the optoelectronic component placed under, partially under or adjacent to a display to an area of an “optically-transmissive” component of surface such as between the display and device bezel.

The technology could be deployed not just in iPhones, but anything with optical emitters, detectors or transceivers such as wearable devices. The under-display or adjacent optical components could be configured to be proximity sensor, 2D or 3D camera, facial recognition or fingerprints, eye trackers or optical communication system – all using the optical fibers or bundles to communicate the data through a gap at the edge of the screen.

Meanwhile rumors are emerging that the next iPhone series could have what is being termed a “hole-punch” display or “hole-punch-sized notch.” BGR collates the development of the rumor which supposes that the iPhone 14 range, expected September 2022, will still offer Face ID but without taking as much screen space for the sensors.

AR/VR headset to have ‘four sets of 3D sensors’ for virtual gesture recognition, biometrics

Staying in rumor territory, this time in the frenetic area of augmented and virtual reality possibilities, trusted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported that Apple’s anticipated headset will have biometrics sensors plus four sets of 3D sensors to detect wearer gestures, possibly doing away with the need for a separate controller, reports iDrop News.

Kuo predicts the headsets will be capable of iris and voice recognition as well as eye tracking, voice control, expression detection, skin detection and spatial detection.

The 3D sensor technology would be similar to the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera and rely on Apple’s Neural Engine silicon and machine learning to interpret the gestures. “Capturing the details of hand movement can provide a more intuitive and vivid human-machine UI,” stated Ming-Chi Kuo, as quoted by iDrop.

The structured light sensors already used in Apple products for features such as Face ID are already far more advanced than the hardware in headsets from competitors such as Meta, according to the report.

Kuo foresees an announcement of the first generation in late 2022 with headsets going on sale in early 2023.

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