On Tuesday Apple was granted a patent for a two-step unlock screen feature that has yet to be implemented. Today, Apple introduces us to an all-new unlock screen feature that utilizes higher integrated security features via biometrics that could also be used in e-Commerce transactions. In late September we reported on Intel's big push into building biometrics into future Wintel devices – and so it comes as no surprise that we now find that Apple has been refining next wave e-Commerce security features using highly sophisticated biometrics. To accelerate their biometric projects Apple recently acquired AuthenTec in July. The race is definitely on to get consumers ready for the next wave of e-Commerce transactions and to ensure that they're processed securely.
Apple's latest security centric invention generally relates to techniques for concealing components of an electronic device behind a window that could change between opaque and transparent configurations, such as a polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) window. Since such a window may be hidden behind a transparent display or color-matched to seamlessly integrate into an enclosure of an electronic device, the components may remain hidden from view while not in use. When desired, the electronic device may expose the concealed components by causing the electronic window to change opacity, allowing the components to suddenly appear as from out of nowhere.
Apple Proposes New Security Features for iDevices & MacBook
While Apple's patent FIG. 2 shown below represents an iPhone, Apple states that their new biometric sensor/reader could be implemented into other Apple products such a iPod touch (PDA), iPod nano (media player), an iPad (tablet), a handheld game platform and even a MacBook (notebook).
The proposed iPhone features may include windows 24A and 24B configured to conceal components such as a camera and biometric sensor 34. By concealing the biometric sensor behind the iPhone's glass surface the biometric sensor may remain unseen when not in use.
The Fingerprint Reader
In Apple's patent FIGS. 12 and 13 shown below we see a biometric sensor in context with a fingerprint reader which is initially concealed behind a closed window on an iPhone. Upon the iPhone's activation in a locked state, a lock screen 160 may be displayed requesting a user to slide a finger across the display to unlock the device. The electronic device may request user authentication to access the handheld device. The device may then display an instruction screen requesting that a user provide biometric data via their fingerprint which will be read by the fingerprint reader.
The biometric sensor may be exposed by the opening noted below in patent point 166. Upon the verification of the user's identity, their home screen will be revealed.
Face or Eye Recognition for e-Commerce Security
An alternative embodiment Apple's patent FIG. 14 shown below illustrates the iPhone's camera that could be used in the future to obtain face and/or eye recognition as a form of user ID or authentication.
Apple states that user authentication is not limited to unlocking an iDevice. Apple's patent FIG. 15 illustrates the process in an e-commerce context. To complete a shopping transaction online, many e-commerce websites may require identity verification before the order can be completed. When such a transaction occurs using an iPhone, for example, the iPhone's camera will provide an authentication screen 180 explaining that user authentication is required to complete the transaction.
Upon acknowledgement of the authentication screen, the iPhone may open a window to expose a biometric sensor in the form of an illustrated camera lens as shown in the patent figure. Once the user is properly identified, the purchase could be completed.
Patent Credits & More
Today's patent application that was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office was originally filed in Q2 2011 by inventors Scott Myers, Richard Dinh and Felix Alvarez Rivera. Other biometric patents from Apple include one related to the enterprise market and another for general applications.
Note that technological revelations revealed in Apple's Intellectual Property filings are not to be interpreted as rumor. Furthermore, fast-tracked fictitious rumor site timetables should be dismissed.
One Continuation Patent Published Today: Continuous Patent Application 20120260115 titled "Inter-Processor Communication Channel Including Power-Down Functionality," dates back to 2008 patent application. Generally speaking, continuation patents represent tweaks that are made to patent claims in an effort to get the patent granted by the USPTO and don't represent any noteworthy new development from the original patent filing.
NOTICE: Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Sites Covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, Real Clear Technology, iClarified, 9to5 Mac, AppAdvice, Gizmodo, Gizmodo Spain, MacDailyNews, Engadget, BestBoyZ Germany and iPhoneSoft France
iDevice Romania, MacUknow China, RazorianFly, MacLife Germany, PCtipp Switzerland, iLounge, MSN Japan, MACprime Germany, Digital Spy UK, Tech Radar UK, Mela Blog Italy, iPhone Land Italy, Consomac France, igen France, Ensegundos Spanish, The ThirdFactor, Fonearena, and more