Apple invention creates a secure device-to-device network with just a picture

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple on Tuesday was granted patent rights to a novel data transfer invention that allows one device to use its built-in camera to take a picture of a second device, and extract a digital handshake key from the image to setup a secure connection.

Digital Handshake
Source: USPTO


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,429,407 for "Digital handshake between devices," which covers the creation of a secure communications path between two devices by using an image to generate a digital handshake key.

As noted in the patent, modern portable devices like the iPhone can store a wealth of digital content, such as contacts, text documents, video, music, and more. Currently, most users rely on email or direct messaging to transfer said content from one device to another, with copy and paste being an effective, yet tedious, mode of storage.

Other implementations can facilitate a direct communications path between the two devices, leveraging wireless technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to transfer data. However, these methods require the handsets to share a network key, and existing implementations of generating this passkey are limited. For example, in some instances users must generate and type in an identical pass phrase to gain access to another device's content.

Digital Handshake


While a few apps, such as Bump, facilitate key generation when two devices output similar accelerometer data, such as a "bump," the method may not be viable if one device is without a motion sensor.

Apple's invention instead provides that an image taken of a device will include a key. For example, the second device can display a dynamic key onscreen or have a key embedded in its housing or bezel. Other examples are provided where filters, flash or infrared light can reveal a hidden key. In some cases, a specialized chip is integrated with the camera module to detect and decipher a device key.

Digital Handshake
Illustration of chassis-located keys.


A process follows that generates a digital handshake key by using the device-provided key or seed with the key captured in the image. This process can support multiple devices, with more dynamically added by using the same initially generated key. For added protection, a device can require a user-generated code to connect.

Further, if there are multiple devices in a captured image, a device can intelligently parse out which is requesting a key through location, distance and content displayed onscreen.

Digital Handshake


Once the two devices are connected, they can share content based on an open program, or an app that is not running. The patent holds that some or all of the content being displayed can be transferred, depending on user preference.

The language notes that in some embodiments, the digital handshake can merely serve as an authentication system, granting a device access to secured information. An example is provided in which a user's identity can be confirmed when purchasing goods, such as prescription medication.

Apple's camera-based digital handshake patent was first filed for in 2010 and credits Marcel Van Os and Caroline Cranfill as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member


    Hacked!


    CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 75

  • Reply 2 of 57
    superbasssuperbass Posts: 688member
    Wow, using a barcode scanner to transfer information! Whoda thunkit?
  • Reply 3 of 57
    irelandireland Posts: 17,623member
    Just a random thought on my part, but NFC with an adhoc wifi backup option is probably the best solution. Some clever software could ensure wifi is automatically turned on for the procedure and the whole thing could be automated. I'm thinking the adhoc wifi option that's included would ensure it would work on all iPhones. I think Apple and Google should work together to have this cross platform too, though.
  • Reply 4 of 57
    nairbnairb Posts: 253member
    This is almost exactly how people log in to secure networks in many shops around the world. Their employer gives them a barcode that they scan to log themselves into the secure network. This is often done via wi-fi.

    No innovation here imo
  • Reply 5 of 57
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



    Just a random thought on my part, but NFC with an adhoc wifi backup option is probably the best solution. Some clever software could ensure wifi is automatically turned on for the procedure and the whole thing could be automated. I'm thinking the adhoc wifi option that's included would ensure it would work on all iPhones. I think Apple and Google should work together to have this cross platform too, though.


     


    There already is an NFC standard for exchanging information between phones via WiFi.   That's what many Android phones use, as does Blackberry and I think Nokia.


     


    This extra step just complicates transfers when you're close enough to see the other device.

  • Reply 6 of 57
    irelandireland Posts: 17,623member
    kdarling wrote: »
    There already is an NFC standard for exchanging information between phones via WiFi.   That's what many Android phones use, as does Blackberry and I think Nokia.

    This extra step just complicates transfers when you're close enough to see the other device.

    Wow, interesting. We need that on all phones.
  • Reply 7 of 57
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member
    ireland wrote: »
    Wow, interesting. We need that on all phones.

    Yeah good luck getting "we do it OUR way" Apple to sign onto that. They're still dragging their heels on NFC adoption in general, let alone it's implementation in something like that.

    That's really my only beef when it comes to Apple tech: it's ok to use something your eggheads didn't think of, guys. Licensing tech isn't the end of the world.
  • Reply 8 of 57
    kind of like https://web.wechatapp.com

    WeChat uses an onscreen QR code to let a user access and chat from a webpage. Super cool feature. (I'm not affiliated with this app or company, but I love scanning the QR code, and this is about the only time I get to do it)
  • Reply 9 of 57
    Meanwhile in the real world...

    I still have to enter my AppleID to download FREE apps and app updates still don't happen automatically. Here's a thought for Apple: Make your current features less of a pain in the ass before adding new features, mmmmmkay?
  • Reply 10 of 57
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by woodycurmudgeon View Post

    I still have to enter my AppleID to download FREE apps…


     


    That's by design. Please understand why.






    …and app updates still don't happen automatically. 



     


    Also by design.

  • Reply 11 of 57


    This is needed for security.


    Otherwise anybody can install free apps on your device.


    And the upgrade, I prefer to decide myself if and when I upgrade an app.


    So Apple should keep it that way.

     

  • Reply 12 of 57
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post





    Yeah good luck getting "we do it OUR way" Apple to sign onto that. They're still dragging their heels on NFC adoption in general, let alone it's implementation in something like that.



    That's really my only beef when it comes to Apple tech: it's ok to use something your eggheads didn't think of, guys. Licensing tech isn't the end of the world.


     


     


    Apple isn't going to embrace such technology until it makes sense to do so. For instance, when there is one standard as opposed to competing NFC standards. Moreover, you don't need NFC to have device to device networking. NFC complicates that. 

  • Reply 13 of 57
    websnapwebsnap Posts: 224member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by woodycurmudgeon View Post



    Meanwhile in the real world...



    I still have to enter my AppleID to download FREE apps and app updates still don't happen automatically. Here's a thought for Apple: Make your current features less of a pain in the ass before adding new features, mmmmmkay?


     


    You don't have to enter your ID, just your password because you are essentially purchasing it (and should have authorization to do so) and pushing it to your other devices (and should have authorization to do so). You don't need to enter anything for updates. Auto updates aren't a great solution if there are features you don't want being pushed down (new facebook app has slowed down my older iPhone). You should have the choice to update specific apps if you want.

  • Reply 14 of 57
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by woodycurmudgeon View Post



    Meanwhile in the real world...



    I still have to enter my AppleID to download FREE apps and app updates still don't happen automatically. Here's a thought for Apple: Make your current features less of a pain in the ass before adding new features, mmmmmkay?


     


    I agree with the first part of your critique. I hate typing in my App ID to get a free App. Make that optional. As to automatic downloads, I think the problem with that is many people might not like updates to perfectly functioning apps to be updated automatically. If anything, that should be optional as well. 

  • Reply 15 of 57
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by websnap View Post


     


    You don't have to enter your ID, just your password because you are essentially purchasing it (and should have authorization to do so) and pushing it to your other devices (and should have authorization to do so). You don't need to enter anything for updates. Auto updates aren't a great solution if there are features you don't want being pushed down (new facebook app has slowed down my older iPhone). You should have the choice to update specific apps if you want.



    It should be optional. If the App is free, I am not purchasing it. Passwords are needed when money is involved, so the harm for allowing password free purchases would be limited. 

  • Reply 16 of 57
    irelandireland Posts: 17,623member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by woodycurmudgeon View Post



    Meanwhile in the real world...



    I still have to enter my AppleID to download FREE apps and app updates still don't happen automatically. Here's a thought for Apple: Make your current features less of a pain in the ass before adding new features, mmmmmkay?


     


    An option for automatic updates would be nice, but I wouldn't like it ON by default.


     


    And I like having to enter my password to download FREE apps. I'm constantly letting me niece game and draw using Paper on my iPhone 5 and iPad 4, but I'm obsessive when it comes to clogging up my purchased apps list with crapware. I deprecated my old Apple IDs last year, I had 3 of them, and now I've one with a simple password and it's bliss. I have that password since before that extra security measures were introduced. And I've a nice tidy purchased apps list for the future.

  • Reply 17 of 57
    irelandireland Posts: 17,623member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Also by design.



     


    That's not a good response to not having automatic updates. Like I said, haven't that as a non-default option would be nice for some people.

  • Reply 18 of 57
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    tbell wrote: »
    It should be optional. If the App is free, I am not purchasing it. Passwords are needed when money is involved, so the harm for allowing password free purchases would be limited. 

    Apple likely requires entry of the password for multiple reasons (even for free apps):
    • Prevent unauthorized purchases by minors (Apple has faced legal action)
    • Prevent unauthorized "purchases" by unscrupulous people, for example, certain apps may attempt to escalate privileges. If a password were not required then such apps might be ubiquitous (as on competing platforms)

    I do not desire to have the security issues of competing platforms. These really are minor inconveniences considering the additional level of security provided.
  • Reply 19 of 57
    websnapwebsnap Posts: 224member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post





    Yeah good luck getting "we do it OUR way" Apple to sign onto that. They're still dragging their heels on NFC adoption in general, let alone it's implementation in something like that.



    That's really my only beef when it comes to Apple tech: it's OK to use something your eggheads didn't think of, guys. Licensing tech isn't the end of the world.


     


    They are dragging their heels on NFC because it's still not secure enough not to get fooled. Cases have been shown where NFC was used to hijack phones (http://thenextweb.com/google/2012/09/19/security-researchers-hack-android-via-nfc-samsung-galaxy-s-iii/). Why do you think Apple got AuthenTech? NFC as it is has proven it to be convenient but hackable. Apple wants to take the time to create a method that locks it down further while distinguishing it from competitors. That's a good thing and should happen more often.



    On that point, knowing what to adopt and what you can improve is a strong suit of Apple's. It's funny you are making it sound like a fault. They adopted most modern tech we take for granted before any of their competitors made them main-stays. USB, CD burning, WiFi, Bluetooth, HTML5, SSD - just to name a few. None of which Apple created but all of which Apple incorporated into their full lineup well before competitors did usually while phasing out established tech that in some cases they created or had a hand in creating. That being said you can't just license any and every solution out there (that's what's happening to every android manufacturer out there not called Samsung) and differentiate yourself as well. There is more to tech advancement beyond just a spec race.

  • Reply 20 of 57
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Nairb View Post



    This is almost exactly how people log in to secure networks in many shops around the world. Their employer gives them a barcode that they scan to log themselves into the secure network. This is often done via wi-fi. No innovation here imo


     


    The innovation, if any, is the device gaining access to the other device by virtue of taking a picture of the device. 

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