The Next Generation Apple Watch Could Identify Users by Their Heart Rate

by

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 6
Tag: patent
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
52 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)
Avatar
52 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)
Avatar
52 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)
Avatar
52 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)
Avatar
52 months ago
That's deliciously clever technology. The Star Trek future gets ever closer.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 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)

Top Stories

Leaker: 'iPhone 12 mini' and iPhone 12 Storage Capacities Start at 64GB, Pro Models at 128GB

Tuesday September 29, 2020 2:31 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple's iPhone 12 launch event will be held on October 13, with the more affordable 5.4 and 6.1-inch devices set to ship out ahead of the more expensive 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch Pro devices, and this morning hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has further committed to that date by providing alleged details on Apple's first shipment of finalized iPhone 12 units. Prosser claims the...

Hands-On With iOS 14.2's New Shazam Music Recognition Toggle in Control Center

Monday September 28, 2020 2:35 pm PDT by
Shortly after launching iOS 14, Apple introduced an upcoming iOS 14.2 update, which is now available to developers and public beta testers ahead of a public release that could come at some point in October. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iOS 14.2 update mainly focuses on the Control Center, introducing a new Music Recognition toggle that deepens the Shazam...

Top Stories: iOS 14 Feature Tour, 'iPhone 12 mini' Rumors, Apple Watch Band Controversy

Saturday September 26, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Things started to calm down a bit this week following last week's rush of media event, Apple Watch and iPad launches, and the release of iOS 14 and other operating updates. But that doesn't mean there wasn't still a lot of news, from digging deeper into iOS 14 to more iPhone 12 rumors to the uproar over trying to exchange band sizes on the new Apple Watch. On top of all of that, we heard...

DigiTimes: 12.9-inch Mini-LED iPad Pro Arriving Early 2021, Mini-LED MacBook Coming Later

Tuesday September 29, 2020 4:18 am PDT by
Apple will launch a 12.9-inch mini LED-backlit iPad Pro in early 2021 and a mini LED-backlit MacBook in the second-half of next year, according to DigiTimes. The Taiwan-based industry publication claims Epistar will supply the over-10,000 mini LEDs used in each iPad Pro tablet. Meanwhile, Apple is expected to recruit Osram Opto as another supplier of mini LEDs for use in a new "high-end"...

iPhone 12 May Launch Earlier Than Usual in South Korea

Monday September 28, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 12 lineup may launch earlier than usual in South Korea, reports The Korea Herald. South Korean telecoms firms speaking to The Korea Herald have said that the iPhone 12 lineup will launch ahead of its usual schedule. Normally, the release of new iPhones in South Korea comes about one month after launch in the United States. Last year, the iPhone 11 arrived in South Korea ...

iOS 14: 'Phoenix 2' Space Shooter Delivers Playable Demo via App Clips

Saturday September 26, 2020 2:08 pm PDT by
One of the new features that arrived in iOS 14 is called App Clips. App Clips is described by Apple to be a "small part of your app" that can be available to users at just the right moment.App Clips focus on finishing one task quickly. An ideal App Clip experience allows users to open and complete a task in seconds. Instead of requiring an App Store download, they can be loaded and run via...

Epic Games Unlikely to Win Injunction in Ongoing Fortnite Battle With Apple, Jury Trial Possible

Monday September 28, 2020 1:14 pm PDT by
The ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Epic Games continued on today, with a preliminary injunction hearing taking place this morning. We're still waiting to hear the judge's official ruling, but it looks like Epic is not going to be granted an injunction to allow Fortnite back into the App Store as the case unfolds. Many of the arguments that lawyers for Apple and Epic Games made were...

iPhone 12 Production Lines at Foxconn's Zhengzhou Factory in China Running '24 Hours a Day'

Tuesday September 29, 2020 3:38 am PDT by
Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn is running its massive Zhengzhou factory in China 24 hours a day to produce the new iPhone 12, according to Chinese media reports. Apple's main iPhone manufacturer in China is said to be cancelling workers' holidays and introducing mandatory overtime with additional bonuses for longer-serving staff, according to information garnered from employees,...

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...