Apple Wins Patent for MacBook Pro's Touch Bar ID and Secretive Biometric Tracking System of Unauthorized Users
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 54 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we focus on a single, unique if not mysterious invention primarily about implementing secret biometric ID and tracking of unauthorized users.
The patent has an odd history. One of the historical references in the patent is 61/666,739 which expired in June 2012 according to the U.S. Patent Office's PAIR system. There the PAIR system also notes that the second patent reference of 13/802,558 is noted as being abandoned in March 2013 only to resurface again last year. The older filings were foreign, though I couldn't figure out from where.
One of Apple's engineers listed on the patent, Byron Han, worked on Siri and yet his LinkedIn summary points to AR glasses and Heads-Up-Displays who left Apple in June. Another Apple engineer, Craig Marciniak, resigned after close to 17 years' service. He worked on Touch ID prototypes; worked on initial technical evaluation of vendor and industry biometric technologies for M&A and more.
Marciniak's senior expertise was brought to this invention that covers Touch ID for the MacBook Pro, but more importantly, the filing introduces a new high-end security function of biometrics including fingerprints as a means of identifying those who attempted to open your iPhone, tablet or MacBook. This pro level is mysterious in that it could very well be aimed for use in the enterprise market, and perhaps law-enforcement and the military.
It sounds like the fingerprint scanning may have not been limited to the Home Button which is never mentioned once in any way. The biometrics of an unauthorized person attempting to enter your device would secretly be photographed, video archived along with fingerprints scanned and sent to the security department with very ridged policies forbidding the sale of the collected biometric data. It's definitely an interesting patent that we may never know if it's being used at work.
The system described is something that you'd expect to read about in a spy novel.
Granted Patent: Biometric Capture for Unauthorized User Identification
Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to identification of unauthorized users of computing devices, and more specifically to capturing biometric information for identifying unauthorized users.
Apple notes in this granted patent that "Users of computing devices may desire to be able to identify one or more unauthorized users who have attempted to utilize the user's computing device. Such identification of unauthorized users who have attempted to utilize a computing device may assist a user in prosecuting unauthorized users.
Apple's patent isn't about an owner using Touch ID to reenter their idevice like an iPhone; it's about systems and methods for capturing biometric information for identifying unauthorized users.
Apple's overview tells us that a computing device may determine to capture biometric information in response to the occurrence of one or more trigger conditions. The trigger condition may be receipt of one or more instructions from one or more other computing devices, detection of potential unauthorized use by the computing device, normal operation of the computing device, and so on.
The computing device may obtain biometric information and may store such biometric information. Such biometric information may be one or more fingerprints, one or more images of a current user of the computing device, video of the current user, audio of the environment of the computing device, forensic interface use information, and so on. The computing device may then provide the stored biometric information for identification of one or more unauthorized users.
The biometric information may be stored in an encrypted and/or otherwise hidden form. The computing device may then provide the stored biometric information for identification of one or more unauthorized users. In this way, unauthorized users of computing devices may be reliably tracked and/or identified.
Touch ID for MacBook Pro via Touch Bar Covered
Interestingly, Apple introduced Touch ID for MacBooks via their new Touch Bar last year which was discussed in this granted patent. While Apple chose to apply it to the new Touch Bar which is within the spirit of the patent, Apple notes in this granted patent that "Touch I/O device may be embodied as a touch screen, touch pad, a touch screen functioning as a touch pad (e.g., a touch screen replacing the touchpad of a laptop), a touch screen or touchpad combined or incorporated with any other input device (e.g., a touch screen or touchpad disposed on a keyboard) or any multi-dimensional object having a touch sensitive surface for receiving touch input."
While aspects of the invention definitely apply to a consumer products and applications, the following would suggest that another aspect of the invention is aimed at pro markets such as the enterprise, law enforcement or military. This is supported by Apple stating the following:
"The present disclosure further contemplates that the entities responsible for the collection, analysis, disclosure, transfer, storage, or other use of such personal information data will comply with well-established privacy policies and/or privacy practices. In particular, such entities should implement and consistently use privacy policies and practices that are generally recognized as meeting or exceeding industry or governmental requirements for maintaining personal information data private and secure, including the use of data encryption and security methods that meets or exceeds industry or government standards.
For example, personal information from users should be collected for legitimate and reasonable uses of the entity and not shared or sold outside of those legitimate uses. Further, such collection should occur only after receiving the informed consent of the users. Additionally, such entities would take any needed steps for safeguarding and securing access to such personal information data and ensuring that others with access to the personal information data adhere to their privacy policies and procedures.
Further, such entities can subject themselves to evaluation by third parties to certify their adherence to widely accepted privacy policies and practices.
Apple's granted patent 9,819,676 was filed in Q2 2016 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent does have a strange history as noted in the report's opening paragraph.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 noted above is a flow chart illustrating a fifth example method for capturing biometric information for identifying unauthorized users; FIG. 8 is a flow chart illustrating a seventh example method for capturing biometric information for identifying unauthorized users.
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