The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for an “electronic device having sealed button biometric sensing system” that would enable users to unlock a device, authorise transactions and access apps by verifying their identity with their fingerprint on a wearable device such as an Apple Watch.
In one embodiment the patent shows the device fitted as a side button to an Apple Watch that would enable users to authenticate their identity using biometrics in a similar way to Apple’s Touch ID authentication feature.
In other models the biometric sensor in the device could also be used to “capture a biometric datum from the user” such as their DNA or heart rate.
“The biometric sensor may sense a biometric characteristic of the user. The biometric sensor may be implemented in any of several configurations including, for example, a capacitive sensor that can be used to identify a fingerprint,” the patent says.
The biometric sensor “may be used to refer to a sensor that can identify or determine a human physical characteristic. The sensed human physical characteristic may vary widely, but may include fingerprint, palm veins, DNA, heart rate, and blood pressure.
“A capacitive biometric sensor may sense fingerprint characteristics of a user touch that may be used to provide a fingerprint identification of the user. In addition to providing an output that corresponds to a biometric characteristic, the output of the biometric sensor may indicate whether an input (eg a touch, a press or the like) occurs, an approximate location where an input occurs, and/or a measure of the input, eg a measurement of absolute capacitance or capacitance change.
“The biometric characteristic sensed by the biometric sensor may be used by the device in a number of different ways. For example, the biometric characteristic may be used to identify a user and, thus, may provide a biometric identification for a process or a transaction.
“The biometric identification may be used to, for example, unlock an electronic device, authorize a transaction send an alert, and/or enable applications running on the electronic device.”