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Apple invents face biometric system for smart glasses wearers to unlock other devices

Apple invents face biometric system for smart glasses wearers to unlock other devices

Patently Apple reports Apple has filed a new patent application for a new Face ID system designed for smart glasses and, potentially, the Vision Pro.

This innovation would allow Face ID to synchronize with the cameras on and in the head-mounted display (HMD) to unlock companion devices such as Apple Watches, iPhones, iPads and Mac desktop computers.

Apple’s patent addresses the challenge resulting from an HMD, like smart glasses, obscuring a user’s eyes with IR filters. This obstruction prevents the user’s ability to unlock their companion device using facial recognition technology, for instance, if a user attempts to unlock their smartphone using face biometrics while wearing smart glasses equipped with IR filters. Even if they position the phone to capture their face, the IR filters block the facial recognition system from recognizing the user’s eyes, and the device can’t unlock.

The new hardware model overcomes this challenge by using the onboard vision system of the HMD. Based on the location of the companion device and the gaze of the user, whether the user is looking at the companion device and thus intending to unlock the device.

Leveraging the HMD’s vision system, it can determine, based on the user’s gaze and the device’s position, whether the user intends to unlock the companion device. The HMD’s vision system, through either its user-facing or outward-facing camera, gauges the user’s gaze direction and the HMD’s relative position to the device. A gaze oriented towards the device within a narrow range of one to five degrees confirms the user’s intent. The Vision Pro is also going to have iris biometrics capabilities.

Once the system confirms that the user is looking at the companion device, the HMD and the companion device can communicate with each other to exchange authentication credentials for unlocking the companion device.

While the patent emphasizes smart glasses, Patently Apply proposes this could also apply to other HMD devices, such as the Vision Pro.

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