Can you ID me now? Apple files for ear-canal biometrics patent
Most people would no more wear someone else’s ear buds than they would invite a stranger’s finger up their nose.
But information being the hot commodity it is, Apple has filed for a patent on a biometric anti-eavesdropper app for its AirPods.
According to reporting by Patently Apple, the company realized that anyone could spot AirPods lying around, linked to an Apple device, and push the devices into their own ear canals to hear private information.
The patent document describes how a presumably unheard signal would be sent out of each headphone to bounce around the owner’s unique biometric ear-canal print. The signal return through the devices to originating bit of Apple hardware.
Assuming the illicit listener picks up the paired iPhone and wants to put some distance between themselves and the rightful owner, the AirPods could also analyze their gait to confirm they are mixing with the wrong earwax.
In both cases, of course, algorithms would compare the biometric signal for authenticity.
It seems Apple has a growing portfolio of biometric AirPod ideas. Last August, Apple published a paper hinting at the integration of biometric health sensors in headphones used while participating in sports.
The company is far from the only ear-canal innovator, either.
University of Buffalo scientists in 2019 began work on biometrics based on ear canal geometry. Their work reportedly scored 95 percent in accuracy.