Apple Watch patent uses heart rate sensor to identify users

When talking about using parts of our bodies for secure authentication, we mostly think of fingerprints or irises. Neither of those, however, are feasible on smartwatch, leaving them with nothing but PIN codes. Apple, however, may have thought of something to make future Apple Watches more secure. And it could use hardware that already exists today and can even be found in existing Apple Watches. That is, identifying people by looking at their blood vessels and their oxygen levels.

It might sound a bit odd to base user authentication on veins and arteries, but that is exactly what Apple's latest patent says. Using heart rate sensors, specifically pulse oximeters, the Apple Watch would take a snapshot of the wearer's vascular structure and compare it to the ones stored on the device as the owner's identifying mark. Whether those two images match or not will determine whether the wearer will be given access to the smartwatch's functionality, including things like Apple Pay.

That is definitely a more convenient way of identifying a user without even requiring them to use the other hand. Whether it is an accurate way, however, is still debatable. Existing biometric systems that rely on vasculature usually use fingers or the back of hands, where blood vessels are easier to observe and are unique enough to be used for identification. That may or may not be true for veins on the wrist.

This is just one of two of the most recent Apple Watch patents that surfaced this week. The other involves using wrist movements to control the Apple Watch as well as a paired iPhone. Of course, these are simply patents that may not see the light of day. But considering how there's very little movement going on in the smartwatch market, these innovations would definitely be more than welcome.

VIA: Apple Insider