Massive new Apple patent filing details multi-user support, trackpad controls with Touch ID

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A 612-page patent application filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization shows that Apple is considering wide-ranging new uses for fingerprint sensing technology in its mobile devices, from user interface navigation and mobile payment processing to multiuser support.

New Touch ID patent
Apple wants to make its fingerprint recognition technology much smarter.


The patent, filed in May of this year and published by the WIPO last week, depicts both the new Touch ID-enabled home button found in the iPhone 5s as well as a touchscreen display with an embedded fingerprint sensing layer. The concept of a fingerprint sensor embedded into a display is not a new one for Apple; the company already references the implementation in at least two other patents, but the most recent filing dives deep into how the invention could be leveraged by a new generation of devices.

New Touch ID patent
The patent imagines new gesture-based interactions for the Touch ID-enabled home button.


Apple's first set of claims revolve around enabling the home button's Touch ID sensor to identify and process gestures, essentially acting as a miniature trackpad for navigating within and switching between applications. Apple argues that swiping across the display to move a map or double-clicking the device's home button to bring up the multitasking menu are suboptimal, calling?those approaches "cumbersome" and saying they "can take a long time or be difficult for a user to remember."

Instead, Apple suggests a quick left-to-right swipe across the home button for moving through application's interface and a short swipe upwards to show iOS's multitasking screen.

Other types of gesture-based home button functions are also considered. Twisting a finger on the sensor or making a circle --?which Apple calls a "revolution" --?around the sensor's edge could toggle iOS's orientation lock feature, for example, while keeping a finger in contact with the button for a specific period of time could change the button's behavior when pressed.

New Touch ID patent
Multiple user profiles could be supported with per-app permissions.


A significant portion of the patent deals with identifying specific users and customizing the device's behavior for each one. In the most basic user identification claim, the patent details a system for creating multiple individual user profiles --?similar to user accounts found on OS X --?and unlocking to the profile associated with a specific fingerprint. Apple even details a "guest mode," a feature iPad owners have been clamoring for since the tablet's release.

Permissions-based profiles make an appearance as well, with the patent contemplating a device shared by a family with young children. A tap from a child's finger would not be allowed to open the Settings application, for instance, while a parent's tap would be accepted.

Apple applies the same concept to app security on a broader level. Using a fingerprint sensor embedded in the display, the operating system can permit or deny access to individual users on a per-app basis --?one user would be permitted to open a banking application, for example, while a different user would not, even without changing user profiles.

New Touch ID patent
A mobile, location-based payment system with fingerprint authentication.


Continuing with the financial theme, the patent predicts a mobile, location-based payments system authenticated by a user's fingerprint. A user is shown checking into a coffee house and authorizing a payment to that same business with their fingerprint, a feature many believe is in the works with Apple's iBeacons microlocation technology as a complementary piece.

New Touch ID patent
An in-display fingerprint sensor could correct fingering problems when learning to play piano.


Some more interesting, offbeat claims also make an appearance. By logging which fingerprints belong to which specific fingers on a user's hands, Apple imagines a system that could teach fingering for playing piano or proper form for touch-typing on screen.

Fingerprints might also be used for pairing devices, which Apple illustrates with a depiction of a user extending their iPhone's display to another situated next to it for reading, creating a larger map-viewing surface, or even playing an instrument. Simply placing the handsets next to each other and touching one with the left hand and the other with the right hand is enough to complete the configuration.

New Touch ID patent
Mirrored displays, showing a map, connected by simply touching each device.


Overall, the patent includes some 464 claims, of which 180 are independent, in its more than 600 pages. The WIPO seems not to appreciate the application's girth, admonishing Apple by saying that "there are so many claims, and they are drafted in such a way...as it is particularly burdensome for a skilled person to establish the subject-matter for which protection is sought," while noting the application's non-compliance with the WIPO's "provisions of clarity and conciseness."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    New Touch ID patent

     

    Three years ago, before the iPad was even announced, I wrote up something that explicitly utilized this idea on a touchscreen. When you know which finger is which, you can easily get rid of mouse and keyboard.

     

    Glad to see I’m not a completely worthless moron.

  • Reply 2 of 48
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I hope some of this comes to fruition. I'd love to have individual app authentication by fingerprint. And this patent also mentions utilizing touch id for user accounts. That one made me smile because of all the claims that Apple would never introduce user accounts because they want people to have to buy multiple devices, not share.

    I have a feeling 2014 will be a big year for Apple. 2012 was all about showing they can stand on their own without Steve and 2013 was basically laying the groundwork for 2014 and beyond.
  • Reply 3 of 48
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,700member

    I hope Apple watermarked the hell out of those 651 pages.  Never know when someone *cough**Samsung* tries to photocopy it.  At least it'll be a hell of a lot of pages to photoshop the watermarks out. :)

  • Reply 4 of 48
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,612member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    And this patent also mentions utilizing touch id for user accounts. That one made me smile because of all the claims that Apple would never introduce user accounts because they want people to have to buy multiple devices, not share.

     

    I always though Apple would use multiple user accounts as a selling point, in full knowledge that within a week or two of sharing a device most families / couples would only have one sure way to resolve their fighting - i.e. through another purchase. As it turned out any such devious tactic was not needed.

  • Reply 5 of 48
    Looks like Apple has BIG plans for TouchID. On a trackpad...awesome!
  • Reply 6 of 48
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,373member
    Getting a bit tired of this site replacing the word "and" with a comma in the titles.
  • Reply 7 of 48
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member

    So this is described as "burdensome", without a high level of conciseness in every scenario a patent is essentially worthless when it comes to using it in a court situation as it will be too broad.

     

    Looks like Apple are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

  • Reply 8 of 48
    Quote:

     instead, Apple suggests a quick left-to-right swipe across the home button for moving through application's interface and a short swipe upwards to show iOS's multitasking screen.


     

    I think I remember suggesting this :) 

     

    Quote:

     why not make the home button the same as the screen, much like the glass trackpad? Actually, if they made the home button as a mini trackpad, that would allow swipe gestures also. 


     

    http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/155482/home-button-fingerprint-sensor-in-iphone-5s-would-give-apple-a-new-leg-up-on-the-competition/40 ;

  • Reply 9 of 48
    Imagine the level of security you get with multi-finger password coding. For example, instead of typing in 12345, it'll be 1(left index finger) 2(right pinky) 3(left index finger) 4(right middle finger) 5(right thumb). The security level increases with a password such as "1a2C6z9&" with multi-finger input.
  • Reply 10 of 48
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

     

    I hope Apple watermarked the hell out of those 651 pages.  Never know when someone *cough**Samsung* tries to photocopy it.  At least it'll be a hell of a lot of pages to photoshop the watermarks out. :)


    I think you can safely change the verb "photocopy" to "Samsung"   Try: "Never know when someone might try to "Samsung" it.  Much shorter everyone.  One may as well get right to the point.

  • Reply 11 of 48
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,700member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jeffarino View Post

     

    I think you can safely change the verb "photocopy" to "Samsung"   Try: "Never know when someone might try to "Samsung" it.  Much shorter everyone.  One may as well get right to the point.




    Very true.  Simple, direct, and to the point.  Nothing lost in translation. :)

  • Reply 12 of 48
    Originally Posted by Evilution View Post

    Getting a bit tired of this site replacing the word "and" with a comma in the titles.

     

    Guess you hate every newspaper ever, then. They don’t even bother with the comma!

  • Reply 13 of 48
    This is awesome ... And I believe these are Apple's baby steps in the direction of bringing iOS and OS X together ... Integrating TouchID into the trackpad (Macbook lineup) and extending iOS with multiple user accounts ... Give or take another 3-4 yrs we will be seeing a full fledged integrated experience of using an iPad / iphone / macbook ... Possibly even the iwatch !!
  • Reply 14 of 48

    "Apple imagines a system that could teach fingering"

     

    For all those people who can't get a date, Apple is there for you.

  • Reply 15 of 48

    By reading this, you would be crazy to buy an iDevice without TouchID because it looks to be a big part of Apple products going forward.

  • Reply 16 of 48
    Just awesome.

    At some point it will probably be possible to securely log in with any form of touch on the device. I imagine the work surface will be essentially a two-way camera/display that is capable of extremely high resolution, high speed scanning and at the same time projecting imagery. I remember a patent that described a "magic mirror" type of display that had tiny imaging elements in-between the display elements, but I forget which company owned that IP.
  • Reply 17 of 48
    By reading this, you would be crazy to buy an iDevice without TouchID because it looks to be a big part of Apple products going forward.

    Possibly, but if you need or want the best today you'll buy an iPhone or iPad.
  • Reply 18 of 48

    I don't know much about patents so could someone explain. The multi-user feature is already available on Android so how can Apple patent it? 

  • Reply 19 of 48
    Originally Posted by psitthipo View Post

    The multi-user feature is already available on Android so how can Apple patent it? 

     

    You can’t patent “having multiple users”. That’s not what this is.

  • Reply 20 of 48
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by psitthipo View Post

     

    I don't know much about patents so could someone explain. The multi-user feature is already available on Android so how can Apple patent it? 


     

    This patent application hasn't been approved yet.  Prior art doesn't stop an entity for applying for a patent.  It's up to the USPTO to decide to grant the patent or not.  That said, this article alone doesn't give enough information as to whether that's one of the claims in this patent application.

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