apple_watch_sensorThe U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an invention today that suggests the next Apple Watch could identify its owner simply by checking their heart rate.

Apple's patent application is titled "User identification system based on plethysmography" and describes how a pulse oximeter is used to determine the biometric signature of a user's cardio rhythms. This data could then be used to identify the wearer and unlock the watch in a manner similar to Touch ID on the iPhone.

The system works similarly to existing monitors, by projecting light on the user's skin and measuring how much of it is absorbed and reflected back to the device. The measurement can then be used to determine the amount of blood present in the vasculature. According to the patent, the data gathered by the two photosensors is either stored or compared against previously saved information to positively identify the user.

In an associated patent also published today, the invention is extended to take in data from motion sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes to determine user movement. Certain gestures, for example raising the device from waist height to head height, trigger the authentication process.

AppleInsider notes that the system could replace Touch ID during Apple Pay payments and further reduce the watch's reliance on iPhone, although it's unclear if heart rate data can be a unique enough identifier to ensure the same level of security.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 7
Tag: Patent
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

radiology Avatar
73 months ago
this is just NOT possible. Your heart rate can change a lot in many normal and abnormal conditions. I call this BS.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
manu chao Avatar
73 months ago
this is just NOT possible. Your heart rate can change a lot in many normal and abnormal conditions. I call this BS.
What this sensor measures is how you blood vessels expand as a pressure pulse is travelling through your veins when the heart contracts. The blood pressure (and thus the size of the blood vessel) follows a periodic fluctuation not unlike a sine curve. The heart rate is given by only looking at the frequency of that periodic fluctuation. Studying the whole shape of the curve gives you much more information than just looking at the frequency.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gasu E. Avatar
73 months ago
http://dsn.sagepub.com/content/11/6/549134.full
http://www.inderscience.com/storage/f104531211967812.pdf
http://file.scirp.org/pdf/JIS20120100004_57389606.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535678/

Is it that your holding off until the security parity between heartbeat signatures and fingerprints is closed, or do you honestly not believe it is a viable identification technique? The way I read you posts you seemed to dispute that heartbeat signatures are unique. Am I misreading your objection?
Troll trap! He's got you doing his research for you! Meanwhile he just sits back and armchair reacts to your posts. Is it so important to get this guy to agree with you that you have to do his work for him, given he's not intellectually curious enough to do it for himself?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iapplelove Avatar
73 months ago
That's deliciously clever technology. The Star Trek future gets ever closer.
You would be amazed at the technology our secret space programs keep from us. Stuff we already have, things us normal people won't ever get to experience.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
73 months ago
That's deliciously clever technology. The Star Trek future gets ever closer.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BMcCoy Avatar
73 months ago
No, my objection is that there is no way this currently works when scaled up to a decent population size, which is of course what would be required for this to be an identification technology.

Did you read those papers, or did you just quickly google, then cut n paste?

"..the majority of the studies have been conducted on a small population (about a few tens of subjects). Therefore, the applicability of ECG biometric recognition on a large scale (real life authentication scenario) it is not yet proven."

"..almost all studies (except for [17 ('https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535678/#CR17')] and [31 ('https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535678/#CR31')] ) ignored the variability of the ECG during life span (i.e. variability induced by work, ageing, iterate sport activity etc.); moreover, only few studies [57 ('https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535678/#CR57'), 83 ('https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535678/#CR83'), 136 ('https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535678/#CR136')] considered the applicability of these techniques when subjects suffer from pathological conditions. ECG recognition in pathological subjects is another aspect worth of additional investigations."

"it must be emphasised that, while guidelines are available for ECG acquisition in the clinical scenario, there is still a lack of standardisation on ECG acquisition (number of leads and their positioning, sampling frequency, number of bits, filtering, type of electrodes, number of leads etc.) for biometrics applications. However, ECG databases for biometric recognition should ideally include recordings, at a given sampling frequency and conditions, from the same subjects in different circumstances (e.g. relaxed, during and after physical training) and along a period of several years."

And still no discussion of sensitivity and specificity.

Not even remotely close to being a practical and usable technology.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
maxresdefault

Unbox Therapy Shares Hands-On Look at iPhone 14 Pro Max Replica

Monday May 16, 2022 4:40 am PDT by
YouTuber Unbox Therapy has shared a hands-on look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max using what he claims is a one-to-one replica created by third-party case makers with access to detailed schematics and dimensions for Apple's new upcoming flagship smartphone. As with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, in 2022, we are expecting a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, but this time the Pro...
RIP iPod Feature

RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple's Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Friday May 13, 2022 2:25 pm PDT by
Apple earlier this week announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its sunsetting effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup. To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the last 21 years. Original iPod (2001) Introduced in October...
macOS Monterey 2

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.4 With Support for Studio Display Webcam Update

Monday May 16, 2022 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.4, the fourth major update to the macOS Monterey operating system that launched in October 2021. macOS Monterey 12.4 comes over two months after the launch of macOS Monterey 12.3, an update that added Universal Control. The ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Monterey‌‌ 12.4 update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 With Wallet and Podcast Updates

Monday May 16, 2022 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the fifth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were initially released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.5 come a little over two months after the launch of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4. The iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in...
airpodsprodesign

Kuo: AirPods, MagSafe Battery Pack, and Other Apple Accessories Also to Switch to USB-C in Future

Sunday May 15, 2022 5:59 am PDT by
Earlier this week, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple plans to release at least one iPhone 15 model with a USB-C port in 2023. Now, in a follow-up tweet, he has claimed that accessories like AirPods, the MagSafe Battery Pack, and the Magic Keyboard/Mouse/Trackpad trio would also switch to USB-C in the "foreseeable future." Both the iPhone and all of the aforementioned...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 15.5 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Monday May 16, 2022 9:57 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 15.5, the fifth major update to the tvOS operating system that first launched in September 2021. tvOS 15.5 comes more than two months after the release of tvOS 15.4, an update that brought support for captive WiFi networks. tvOS 15.5 can be downloaded over the air on the Apple TV through the Settings app by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌‌‌‌‌Apple...