A new Apple patent shows what technology could replace FaceID and TouchID in future iPhones

A new Apple patent shows what technology could replace FaceID and TouchID in future iPhones
Apple’s iPhones are easily recognizable by the wide notch at the top of the display. It made an appearance for the third year in a row on this year’s iPhone 11 lineup. The reason Apple can’t get rid of the notch is that it’s housing all the sensors needed for the company’s FaceID. Sooner or later, however, Apple will have to update its design and unless it can fit all the sensors under the display, it might have to look for another way for users to securely identify themselves. And it seems that engineers at Cupertino are working hard on at least one alternative.

A new patent published today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and quickly spotted by AppleInsider, reveals which part of our bodies we might use in the future to unlock Apple devices. Spare your guesses, the answer is our palms.

The technology in question would allow devices to accurately detect the veins within our palms, which are uniquely structured just like our fingerprints. Palm identification in itself is nothing new and has been used in certain areas for years because it’s more secure than most other methods. Fingerprints can be replicated relatively easy and even faces can be duplicated successfully with enough resources. Faking the veins inside a person’s hand, however, is near impossible.

Apple’s development could allow this technology to be implemented in mobile devices as small as the Apple Watch. 

To do that, the devices will use not only light emitted from the display but also infrared light coming from under it. Both images will then be processed and matched to the original data. The system requires a dot projector and infrared camera so the issue of having to tuck these under the display still remains.

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This method is contactless so there’s no need to press your palm against the display, just holding your hand slightly above the display should do the trick.

If the technology works as intended, it will be secure enough to replace FaceID for everything from unlocking your devices to approving financial transactions. When it comes to usability, however, it might be a bit less intuitive than FaceID. Perhaps you’ll only need to use your palm for extra-secure features and services.

When, or even if palm recognition will make it to Apple devices is impossible to say right now, plenty of patented technologies never reach marketable products. We’ll keep an eye for any mentions of “palm” in future Apple-related leaks.

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