Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a future method of using the iPhone's Touch ID system to gain access to a second device, like a MacBook or iMac, without requiring a password.
Biometric Device Pairing
Apple's invention covers biometric device pairing to allow biometric identification-equipped devices to be used for pairing with other electronic devices and/or for secure access to the other electronic devices, including non-biometric authentication enabled devices.
The biometric identification-equipped device may establish a secure connection with a second, different device. The connection is based at least in part on the acquisition and verification of biometric data. Thereafter, the biometric device may access the second device to retrieve data, configure the second device, transmit data, or otherwise interact.
In certain embodiments, a one-time initialization process exchanges credentials between the biometric equipped devices and the non-equipped devices. Once the credentials are exchanged between the devices, the biometric enabled device establishes a secure channel from the credentialed device.
The biometric enabled device receives a user's biometric data, verifies the biometric data, and sends a message or signal to the non-enabled device to unlock that device. A password or other authorization is thus not needed to access the non-enabled device and the user may thus access that device securely and conveniently after authentication by the biometric enabled device.
More specifically, the biometric enabled device is a smartphone with a fingerprint sensor to permit a user to unlock the smartphone and, in turn, unlock one or more other devices such as a MacBook which may or may not be biometric enabled.
Referring to Apple's patent FIG. 3, certain embodiments permit a user to access a second electronic device #24, a MacBook, from the first electronic device #11, an iPhone, equipped with Touch ID. Some electronic devices like a MacBook may not have biometric sensors and may require passwords or other security measures to access them. An iPhone may bypass such security measures by pairing with the MacBook.
In a situation where a user has an iPhone and wishes to access their MacBook, it may enhance or facilitate the user's operation to access the MacBook and/or information contained in the MacBook such as a document without entering any additional security verification into the MacBook.
Apple notes that identification or other authorization message may be transmitted wirelessly across a network to the second electronic device using a wireless transceiver device #26 that will communicatively couple the iPhone to the MacBook.
Apple's patent FIG. 11 noted above is a flowchart illustrating example final operations in the process of authorizing an operation on an accessory device.
It would be technically possible for this method to apply to future accessories such as a printer, scanner, TV or beyond.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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