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Pair of Apple patents hint at wrist biometrics in MacBooks, under-display sensors for iPhones

Pair of Apple patents hint at wrist biometrics in MacBooks, under-display sensors for iPhones

Apple has been granted a pair of new patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for novel biometrics integrations into laptops and smartphones.

A patent from the USPTO spotted by Patently Apple describes possible future MacBooks that could include, among other features, finger-sensing keys and palm print biometrics.

The patent for a ‘Device having integrated interface system’ describes a sensor to capture palm or wrist biometrics placed under the surface of the palm rest area of notebook computers. This could be palm prints, but it could also mean detecting and analyzing the user’s heart rate and other health-related metrics like blood oxygenation and temperature.

The interface system also includes sensors to allow users to draw over the keyboard with their fingers, and a phone charger built into the bottom left corner of a MacBook, beneath the keyboard.

Under-display Iris, Face and Touch ID?

Apple’s under-display iPhone biometrics development continues, meanwhile, at the research if not product level.

A patent for ‘shortwave infrared optical imaging through an electronic device display’ was likewise granted to Apple by the USPTO this week, and describes an optical sensor embedded “at least partially” under the display of an iPhone, emitting shortwave infrared light to capture fingerprints, iris, face or vein biometrics. The imaging sensor could be a single-element imager, or a multi-element array.

Different kinds of light could be used to read the user’s pulse or blood oxygen. The patent also describes various possible frequencies, and either pulsed or steady light emissions to capture biometric data.

Apple has not included Touch ID since the 2017 launch of iPhone X, when it shifted its focus to face biometrics. Rumors had circulated about the introduction of under display sensor Touch ID in iPhone 13. With challenges to Face ID presented by masking during the pandemic, some had hoped for the imminent return of Touch ID. Instead, Apple worked on improving Face ID to work with masks.

Although under screen Touch ID may take years to arrive on iPhone, Apple continues to file patents for advanced under display sensor technology. Another patent, filed for in 2019 and published in March, is for ‘Under-display fingerprint sensing based on off-axis angular light.’ As well, a version of Touch ID is a feature of the latest generation of iPad Air.

The company has pledged to introduce under-display 3D face biometrics in an iPhone by 2024.

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