If you have ever wanted some kind of biometric authentication system in the Apple Watch, you’re not alone. Apple engineers are also figuring out ways to put the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the Apple Watch. at least according to one patent requestnamely.
titled «Electronic device with sealed button biometric detection system«, Apple’s filed patent application describes methods for installing a fingerprint sensor inside a smartwatch. As well as discussing the technicalities and the various ways it can be brought to life, the app also outlines some of the use case scenarios.
The attached schematic shows a side button that looks identical to the Touch ID power button you’ll find on the iPad Air. The Apple Watch offers enough room on the side to fit a button that size, so the idea doesn’t really sound outlandish. In addition to acting as the power button, touching it will also serve as a biometric authentication channel for a variety of tasks.
Interestingly, the patent application envisions putting a fingerprint sensor assembly inside the Digital Crown. The crown would retain its rotating functionality, while the static part in the middle will have a Touch ID sensor hidden behind the flat contact surface.
In particular, the patent also talks about the use of an in-display fingerprint sensor, a solution that is common in Android smartphones. “The screen may also provide an input surface for one or more input devices, such as a touch sensing device and/or a fingerprint sensor,” the proposal reads.
It may sound like retrograde motion. After all, why would I need to authenticate my fingerprint pattern if all I want to do is see the time? There’s a reason why getting up to wake up is a staple in smartwatches, not just those made by Apple. But the patent application, which was published on July 5, goes through some key benefits.
According to the description section, unsurprisingly, a fingerprint sensor on an Apple Watch can “unlock an electronic device, authorize a transaction, send an alert, and/or enable applications running on the electronic device.” If that sounds vague, let me expand on some of those scenarios.
The Apple Watch is capable of many impressive tasks, such as taking an EKG, measuring blood oxygen saturation levels, and making payments, among others. Soon, it will also be able to detect fever. In the years to come, it could also add non-invasive blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring to its arsenal.
But the storage of so much sensitive information, especially intimate personal health and banking details, must be secure. For such situations, locking that data behind a layer of biometric security is the right way to go.
Then there is the convenience aspect. You no longer have to enter an access code or PIN to authenticate a payment. However, Apple isn’t the only smartwatch maker that wants to put a biometric authentication system in a smartwatch.