Bringing us another step closer to a James Bond techno-world (bring your own Agent “Q”), Apple (News - Alert) is seeking new patents for technologies that may (some day) use advanced biometrics to protect i-devices. Biometrics to protect laptops and phones isn’t brand new: many models use fingerprint and voice print security, and some even venture into facial or retinal scanning and recognition (though not the ones that most of us can afford).
Apple’s future system will possibly go steps further than that.
Essentially, if implemented on a device, the technology could use stored information about not only the authorized user’s voice print, face and fingerprints, but also usage patterns (individuals have very unique and distinct typing and navigation habits) and even heartbeat. Should the system suspect that the user is not the phone’s owner, in the case of theft, the device could lock out the thief and send an e-mail with the phone’s location and the thief’s photo to the authorized user (how cool is that?). It could also inform the owner (and credit card companies and banks) of all activity conducted on the phone by the thief via call logs and keystroke information. Finally, to prevent the thief from using any information stored on the device for nefarious purposes, the system could save data on the phone to a remote location and then wipe the device clean, rendering it secure from data theft. (It’s at this point that the i-device recovery SWAT team swings in, sirens blaring and lights flashing, and puts the hapless thief into cuffs.)
Out there as it seems, the heartbeat feature is reported to be in the works at Apple: the company filed a patent in January of this year for a technology that uses external sensors on devices to detect the user’s heartbeat and compare it to the heartbeat of the authorized user, locking a user out if the sampled heartbeat data do not match (heartbeats are apparently quite unique to individuals).
The upside to such a technology, should it ever be put to market (a patent is a long way away from a saleable product), is that it could be used for all sorts of fitness-related applications as well as personal health monitoring alerts for heart patients. Apple has implied that in the future, the advanced biometric readings could even help your i-device sense your mood and act accordingly on its own initiative: changing your screen to a pretty beach scene and playing a soothing song, for example, when it senses you need to be calmed.
At which time, we’ll be able to begin accusing our phones of patronizing us. Isn’t technology great?
Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Erin Harrison