While the iPhone has evolved to include different biometric authentication methods, including fingerprint sensors and facial recognition, Apple Watch users have been a little left out. A new patent from Apple, however, suggests that may change in the near future.
The patent essentially describes the use of biometric sensors on the watch that can look at the wearer’s wrist skin texture pattern. In other words, using “biometric sensing pixels,” the device can look at the pattern of your skin. This would allow users to have their watches automatically unlock when they put on the device.
The system may actually incorporate a number of biometric sensing pixels, rather than just one. What that means is that if Apple did pursue this, it may incorporate sensors on the wristband as well as on the body of the watch itself. A number of sensors could be included in these skin texture systems, including infrared sensors, electric field sensors, and more — all used for biometric authentication.
The variety of sensors may be used to authenticate a user’s identity in different ways. Not only could the sensor look at a user’s skin texture, but it could also track electric fields and other elements for use. The infrared sensor could also be used to distinguish things like hair from the texture of the actual skin, which could help ensure a more accurate reading.
Of course, just because Apple has filed for a patent for this tech, it doesn’t mean we’ll see it incorporated in a real product any time soon. It’s a little hard for us to imagine Apple incorporating sensors and other tech into watch bands at this point, especially considering the fact that there’s quite a large ecosystem of third-party watch bands. Instead, if Apple does incorporate the tech, it’s likely it will try to figure out a way to solely use sensors built into the watch body.
Apple is likely already working on a follow-up to the much-loved Apple Watch Series 4, which we expect to be released around September 2019. Considering the Apple Watch Series 4 offered a pretty significant design update, we expect the Series 5 to be a minor upgrade, but it could still have some cool extra features.