Apple Patent: Embedded Authentication System

AppleA lot of blogs have been talking about a recent patent application by Apple for an “Embedded Authentication System.” The concept is pretty sweet but we’ve got to get something out of the way first. It seems that there is an image used in the application that is, well… just take a look for yourself:


You jailbreakers should notice a lot of stuff here. The major things are Installer, SMBPrefs, & other icons from Installer. Why would Apple use this in a future patent? Well first you have to understand what Apple is doing with this “Embedded Authentication System.”

What this patent explains, is the ability for a device to recognize a user without the user actually taking a specific step to identify themselves. Apple wants the device to notice on it’s own, who is operating it. How would it do this? Possibly embedded fingerprint reader under the touch screen or a camera that would recognize the users ear when held to talk on the phone. Think, if you like the volume louder but your spouse likes it softer, when you hand the iPhone to them it would recognize them and adapt. Another way to recognize you would be voice recognition. When the mic hears your voice, maybe with the combination of other sensors, it would know who the user is. They are also talking about the use of this feature in other products such as laptops.

So, back to the picture above. What’s with the jailbreak screenshot? Well, one idea is to have the device change it’s icons & background when a different user has the iPhone. Here’s a quote from the patent:

[0049]Display screen 500B may include options 510B for resources or applications available to the users. In some embodiments, options 510B may be entirely different from the options of a default screen (e.g., display screen 500B shares no options display screen 200, FIG. 2). Display screen 500B may be further customized to not include labels identifying the applications or resources associated with options 510B.

[0050]Display screen 500C may include options 510C for resources or applications available to the users. In some embodiments, options 510C for the same resources as other display screens may have different appearances (e.g., different icons). For example, in FIG. 5C, the options displayed for the Mail, Clock, Photos, YouTube, and Calculator applications may be different than those displayed in display screen 500A of FIG. 5A. Display screen 500C may in addition include a custom or personal background 512C (e.g., different background image). In some embodiments, display screen 500C may not include a dock or other feature for maintaining some options 510C in a fixed position (e.g., unlike options 510B located in dock 512B).

I’ve reviewed most of the document and here are some quotes and summarized points I found that are very interesting. Of course none of this may ever end up in an actual device but they are ideas Apple has that are big enough they want to patent it.

– identification information comprises at least one of:a fingerprint;a palm print;a hand print;a knuckle print;a blood vessel pattern;a retina pattern;an iris pattern;an ear canal pattern; and a DNA sequence.

– the sensor is embedded in a portion of a touch screen;a keyboard;a button;a mouse;a touchpad; and an electronic device housing adjacent to the input mechanism

– this idea is an alternative to passwords. Passwords can be stolen or forgotten. This attempts to eliminate those problems.

– a sensor for detecting features of a user’s skin, or features underneath a user’s skin

– sensor may be embedded in at least one of a touch screen, a button (e.g., of a keyboard or mouse), device housing near an input mechanism (e.g., laptop housing near keyboard), or any other suitable location

– the electronic device may include a system operative to detect features of a user’s ear canal, an odor associated with the user, a user’s DNA, or any other suitable biometric attribute

– access to files or data stored on or available to the device, access to particular applications may be restricted (e.g., applications purchased by particular users, or applications associated with administrative tasks or privileges), access to personal settings (e.g., displayed options, background images, or the icons used for applications) may be restricted until the user authenticates.

– the authentication system may include a system for detecting biometric features or attributes of a user. For example, the electronic device may include a system operative to detect and authenticate a user based on features of or under a user’s skin, such as a finger print, hand print, palm print, knuckle print, blood vessel pattern, or any other suitable portion of or under the user’s skin; a user’s eyes or face, or movements of the user’s eyes; a user’s ear canal, an odor associated with the user, a user’s DNA, or any other suitable biometric attribute or information associated with a user.

– the user may provide inputs detected by a sensor (e.g., an accelerometer or a gyroscope) of the device following a predetermined temporal pattern. The device may detect the inputs from vibrations caused by tapping the device or an area adjacent to the device, moving the device in a particular manner

– The electronic device may use any suitable approach for selecting which authentication systems to combine

– the authentication system may include a sensor operative to detect the pattern of a user’s veins, arteries, follicle distribution, or any other suitable feature underneath the user’s skin that may be detected

– the authentication system may be operative to identify a user based on a DNA sequence. For example, the authentication may include a sensor coupled to a processor that is operative to receive a cell having the user’s DNA (e.g., from the user’s skin or mouth) and determine whether a particular DNA sequence is present. The length or variation in DNA sequence may be selected to both ensure that proper authentication is provided and that the authentication process is sufficiently quick (e.g., the entire DNA strand need not be analyzed)

This is all just from the first document and there are a total of 991 :) I’ll see if I can find anything else interesting and let you know!

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  1. so what your saying is that my iphone is going to know that its me touching it, and if someone else is programmed to it it will switch to their liking?


  2. Or it could be that Apple realizes the jailbreak community is vibrant and thriving and there is no sense in trying to stop it and have instead decided to embrace it. Recognizing the ability to jailbreak as a big reason a large number of people buy the device.

    Meaning greater sales.

  3. So douglas when do you think is this gonna come out??

  4. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but this would be so cool for the next gen.