Apple might find a way for AirPods to verify their owner in the future

Apple might find a way for AirPods to verify their owner in the future
Headphones are one of those devices that feel especially personal, and one does not simply hand them over to other people just like that. Nevertheless, there are times when your precious pair of headphones might end up in someone else, be it because you lent them or they were stolen.

On that note, Apple was recently granted a new patent (credited to Jun Gong and Gierad Laput) that describes a way to keep your private information safe when someone else is wearing your AirPods. (via AppleInsider)

The patent goes into detail about the capabilities of headphones and all the ways they can share personal information while being used. One example Apple gives is when a user receives a message on their phone, which is then read by the digital assistant through the audio device they are carrying.

After laying the foundations for its proposal, Apple goes further to point out that, currently, there is no way for the audio device to recognize the one wearing it. In other words, personal features such as texts being read are not secure from people who are not the owner.

How would Apple make AirPods ID you?

There are a couple of key factors that this new patent has which make AirPods capable of ID-ing you.

Firstly, the owner would need to have both an iPhone and an Apple Watch with them. That way, there would be three devices on the wearer, tracking their movements. After that, the results are compared to one another and a decision is made whether to restrict private information or not.

So, let’s say the AirPods are the “first electronic device,” the iPhone could be the second, and the Apple Watch the third. With that picture in mind, take a look at how the patent describes the process:

AirPods and ultrasonic signals

The idea to track movement from three separate devices and then compare it to what your own typical motions are sounds like a decent way for the AirPods to ID you. That being said, Apple has another trick up its sleeve to make this recognition process even more accurate—ultrasonic sound.

Apple explains that the second electronic device, for example, the iPhone, could let out an ultrasonic signal (sound), which would then be received by the audio device. That way, there is an extra layer of protection added, as the headphones know whether the phone or smartwatch is on the wearer.

In the cases when the audio device does not recognize the wearer as the owner of said headphones, however, a set of restrictions could then be implemented. Mostly, the unauthorized wearer wouldn't be able to access any personal data by using the device.

Of course, the whole idea behind this patent is based on the assumption that the owner of the headphones, which in this case will be AirPods, also owns an iPhone and Apple Watch. It is also unclear whether older models would receive a software update to support this feature, making it even more difficult to realize.

Patents can often sound exciting, but keep in mind that even more often—they don’t reach completion, and end up being scrapped or saved for a much later date. Having your headphones know if you are the one wearing them is pretty cool, you’ve got to admit.

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless