A patent published by U.S Patent and Trademark Office, Apple wants to equip a Light Field camera in the future Apple Watch for bio-authentication. The document explains that it’s easier to install fingerprint and facial recognition sensors in larger devices, like the iPhone and iPad than wearable devices like an Apple Watch. Therefore, a Light Field camera will able to unlock the smartwatch without logging a password.
An electronic device may include a fingerprint sensor, a facial recognition sensor, a retina scanner, or other form of bioauthentication sensor. In some devices, such as a phone or tablet computer, a bioauthentication sensor may be provided adjacent (or as part of) a display of the device. However, in a wearable electronic device such as a watch, there may be little or no room for providing a bioauthentication sensor adjacent (or as part of) a display of the device. User authentication may therefore be provided by means of a password or similar input.
A Light Field camera in Apple Watch
Invented by Dale Setlak, Giovanni Gozzini, Manohar Srikanth, and Mohammad Yeke Yazdandoost, the Light Field camera will take images of the users to the wrist to capture vein impression to unlock the smartwatch. The filing states:
A method of authenticating a user of a wearable electronic device includes emitting light into a dorsal side of a forearm near a wrist of the user; receiving, using a light field camera, remissions of the light from the dorsal side of the forearm near the wrist of the user; generating a light field image from the remissions of the light;
performing a synthetic focusing operation on the light field image to construct at least one image of at least one layer of the forearm near the wrist; extracting a set of features from the at least one image; determining whether the set of features matches a reference set of features; and authenticating the user based on the matching. In some embodiments, the method may further include compensating for a tilt of the light field camera prior to or while performing the synthetic focusing operation.
Apple Watch with bio-authentication operation sounds exciting but it must be kept in mind that Apple files for various patents and not every invention passes through the development phase.