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Apple Invents Wireless Pairing between Devices using Biometrics

30. Patent Application
On Mar 06, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Wireless Pairing and Communication between Devices Using Biometric Data." The patent reveals that information exchanged between devices such as an iPhone and Mac may one day use biometrics to perform a connection between the devices. While it adds another layer of security it also simplifies the process by not requiring any passwords. Apple states that other forms of biometric security may be used in the future, such as retinal scanning, facial recognition and more.


Apple's Patent Background


Given the prevalence of electronic devices (such as desktop computers, mobile computing devices, portable data storage devices, smart phones, digital music players, and so on) that store data in the modern world, many users may own and/or utilize more than one such electronic device. As such, users may need to wirelessly transfer data (such as music files, preference files, configuration files, document files, movie files, image files, and so on) back and/or forth between the storage media of various such electronic devices in order to make full use out of the electronic devices. In order to control the use of such electronic devices and/or the security of data stored by such electronic devices, electronic devices may need to perform one or more 'pairing' operations before data transfer can be performed. However, in order to provide access control and/or security, such pairing processes may be time consuming and/or otherwise burdensome for users.


For example, electronic devices may be configured to pair and/or communicate data utilizing a Bluetooth communication connection. However, in order to configure the devices to pair and/or communicate utilizing the Bluetooth communication connection a user may be required to enter one or more passcodes into one or more of the electronic devices. Such a manual configuration and/or passcodes entry system may be inconvenient for users. Users may not want to remember passcodes and/or have to enter such passcodes or similar security measures in order to transfer data between different electronic devices.


Apple Invents Biometrics in Wireless Pairing and Communication between Devices


Apple's invention generally relates to communication between devices, and more specifically to use of biometrics in wireless pairing and communication between devices.


Similarly, in one or more implementations, a device may determine to pair with at least one host. As such, the device may transmit biometric data for a user of the device to the host. The host may receive the transmitted biometric data and compare such to the host's biometric data. Based on the comparison, the host may determine whether or not to pair with the device and/or what data stored by the host to allow the device to access. The device may then access data of the host to which the host has allowed access based on the transmitted biometric data.


2. Pairing devices using biometrics

Hosts or devices may pair with devices or hosts (respectively) in order to perform a variety of activities. For example, a device may pair with a host to obtain configuration files in order to configure itself to more closely resemble the configuration of the host, backup files stored by the device on the host, obtain files stored by the host, synchronize files stored on both the device and the host, and so on.


In various implementations, the host or device may automatically pair with an available device or host (respectively) as long as the biometric data matches. However, in other implementations, user input indicating to pair (which may include providing of the biometric data) may be required by the host or device requesting the pairing and/or the device or host accepting the pairing.


In one or more implementations, the host or device which allows access to data may simply allow access to any stored data as long as the biometric data matches. However, in other implementations, the host or device may maintain a variety of different permission levels for a variety of different areas of stored data (such as master/owner for secured areas or guest/non-owner for non-secured areas). In such implementations, the host or device may also associate the permission levels with the biometric data. As such, the host or device when paired may only allow access (and/or type of access) corresponding to the permissions associated with the biometric data.


Various Kinds of Biometrics


In some implementations, the host or device may simply transmit biometric data. However, in other implementations, the host or device may modify biometric data before transmission, such as by hashing and/or encryption. Such biometric data may include any kind of biometric data, such as fingerprints, handprints, thumb prints, facial images, retinal images, voice signatures, and so on.


The Biometrics Era Arrives


Yesterday the Korea Herald published a report titled "Era of biometrics begins." The report stated that "Not only computers but also cars, televisions and front doors of people's homes can one day in the near future be controlled by either the touch of a button on a mobile device or even by an advanced recognition algorithm or solution.


This concept that was once only seen in science fiction movies will soon become a reality. Now with Apple's iPhone5S with fingerprint sensors introduced last year followed by Samsung introducing it in their new Galaxy S5, ushered in a new era for biometric authentication technology, experts said.


The report also noted that "Noncontact palm and fingerprint reading solutions are also ready to be deployed, not only for smartphones but other gadgets as well. This would pave the way for the technology to identify not only the owners but also third parties." The report further noted that combination biometrics with fingerprint and facial recognition technology will be another way for devices to use biometrics. This is something that Google is trying to patent now for Android.


Apple's current patent points out a wide range of future biometric options that may be coming to future Apple devices. The likelihood of Apple designing systems that may one day require a combination of biometrics to unlock a device is high.


This is also something that Raytheon is working on, as illustrated in their latest biometrics patent application 20140059675 that was published by the U.S. Patent Office last week. The illustration below shows us a combination of biometric-types entered into a device to gain access to a building or accessing equipment. 


3. Raytheon Biometics patent fig. 5

Apple Patent Credits


Apple credits Chang Zhang and Qing Liu as the inventors of patent application 20140068725 which was originally filed in Q3 2012. To review more of Apple's inventions regarding biometrics, see our Biometric Archive.


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