Apple patents biometric palm recognition technology for smartphones and wearables

Apple patent for a biometric palm recognition showing it working with a smartwatch
PALM BIOMETRICS: The patent shows how the system would work with devices such as a smartwatch

The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for an “electronic device including palm biometric sensor layer” that would enable users to unlock a device and authenticate other interactions on a smartphone, smartwatch or other wearable by verifying their identity with their palm.

In one embodiment the patent explains how the technology would detect the presence of the user’s palm and project dot images onto its surface in order to capture image data that could then be used to perform biometric authentication “based upon comparing determined palm vein data and stored palm vein data”.

The system could leverage either infrared or “flood” light to capture the image data of a user’s palm and would also be capable of determining the extent to which the image of the user’s palm has been offset or distorted, according to the patent.

Illustrations show how the system would work with small handheld devices such as a smartphone or wearables like a smartwatch, but the patent also indicates that the technology could be used in other electronic devices such as tablets and PCs.

“An electronic device may include a display layer including light transmissive portions and non-transmissive portions,” the patent explains.

“The electronic device may also include a palm biometric image sensor layer beneath the display layer and configured to sense an image of a user’s palm positioned above the display layer based upon light reflected from the user’s palm passing through the light transmissive portions of the display layer.

“The electronic device may further include a controller configured to capture image data from the user’s palm in cooperation with the palm biometric image sensor layer and determine a surface distortion of the user’s palm based upon the image data.

“The controller may also be configured to perform a biometric authentication of the user’s palm based upon the image data and the surface distortion.”

The US Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent for a biometric sensing system to bring Touch ID to Apple Watch in July 2022.

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