In the Future, AirPods will require User Authentication with Touch or Face ID and other unique Biometric Measures to fully Operate
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to user identification and, more specifically, to user identification using headphones. Biometrics could include Touch and Face ID but also new biometric measures such as identifying the user's inner ear construction or even in the gait of a user's walk.
Apple notes in their patent filing that headphones communicatively coupled to an iPhone (an electronic device), can provide a useful interface between human users and electronic devices. In general, headphones may be utilized for listening to audio from another device and performing other various functions, such as providing voice commands to the device via the headphones.
However, conventional systems are generally lacking with respect to user identification using headphones. In particular, traditional systems are not well equipped to determine whether a user wearing a respective set of headphones is an authorized user of a corresponding device, such as a mobile phone.
In particular, these systems typically do not include functionality for considering whether the user wearing the headphones is associated with a corresponding device, much less do these systems perform authentication techniques and modify the types of outputs provided at the corresponding device based on the authentication.
For example, conventional systems will typically allow any user (e.g., an unauthorized user) to place headphones in their ear, even if such headphones are communicatively coupled to the device of another user.
As a result, conventional systems may risk releasing personal information from an associated device to unauthorized wearers of corresponding headphones.
In some examples, a user may have been previously authenticated using an Apple Watch. The user may input authentication credentials to electronic watch (e.g., a passcode, a facial identification, a voice identification, and the like), such that the authentication credentials are compared to reference credentials. Upon successful authentication, the user may utilize Apple Watch to perform various functions, such as sending and receiving messages, conducting phone calls, tracking exercises, and the like with their AirPods.
The authorization of the user may be further based on obtaining biometric information from a device, such as the wireless headphones. Biometric information associated with an ear of the user may be obtained from wireless headphones. For example, various signals may be output at wireless headphones wherein an impulse response is received from wireless headphones based on the output signals. The impulse response may correspond to a biometric representation related to an ear of the user (e.g., an inner-ear representation).
In accordance with a determination that the obtained biometric information corresponds to reference biometric information (e.g., a reference inner-ear representation), the user is identified as an authorized user of wireless headphones and associated a mobile device.
In some examples, determining whether the user is an authorized user based on an input associated with the user includes receiving the input associated with the user, wherein the input includes detected gait information, and in accordance with a determination that the detected gait information corresponds to reference gait information, identifying, based on the received input, the user as an authorized user of the first electronic device and the second electronic device.
By utilizing additional factors such as biometrics, gait, and voice, the system improves accuracy by providing additional layers of authentication when necessary. Improving accuracy enhances the operability of the device and makes the device more efficient which, additionally, reduces power usage and improves battery life of the device by enabling the user to use the device more quickly and efficiently.
By selectively providing outputs based on headphone authentication, the system improves user experience by providing relevant content when appropriate. Improving user experience enhances the operability of the device and enables the user to use the device more quickly and efficiently.
Apple's patent FIGS. 8A-8C illustrate a system for user identification using headphones; FIG. 9 illustrates a system for user identification using headphones; FIG. 11B illustrates a partial process for user identification using headphones.
In general, the additional input associated with the user may include one or more of a speech input and/or gait information associated with the user. For example, once a wireless headphone is placed in the ear of a user, a speech input may be received via the wireless headphone. In accordance with a determination that the received speech input corresponds to a stored voiceprint, the user may he identified as an authorized user of the wireless headphone 902 and an associated mobile device, for example. In some examples, once the wireless headphone is placed in an ear of the user, gait information is detected.
In particular, the gait information may be determined at a mobile device associated with wireless headphone and/or an Apple Watch associated with wireless headphone. The gait information may include, for example, information regarding a user's walking and/or running characteristics, such as characteristics related to steps, pace, stride, and the like. The gait information may be further compared to reference gait information. For example, the user's gait information may have previously been detected and stored (e.g., gait information representing a user's typical walking and/or running characteristics).
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.