Apple exploring device pairing with Touch ID, camera privacy using diffusers

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A pair of newly released patent applications detail potential future capabilities for Apple devices, with the first detailing a system by which two devices could be paired using biometric information, like a fingerprint, while the second details a method to display camera information using electronic diffusers.

U.S. Patent Application number 20140068725, entitled "Wireless Pairing and Communication Between Devices Using Biometric Data," defines a manner in which users could take advantage of unique biometric information to authorize a connection between two devices. This could be used, for instance, in lieu of current authentication methods to pair two devices over Bluetooth.

Currently, authorizing a connection between two Bluetooth devices requires a user to enter a passcode, generally a randomly-generated series of numbers. Apple's patent would allow biometric information, like fingerprints from the company's popular Touch ID system, to substitute for those passcodes.

Apple's patent application, published on Thursday and discovered by AppleInsider, would also allow for the same biometric data to determine a specific level of access for paired devices. Pairing authorized by a fingerprint, for instance, may grant greater access than pairing authorized with a passcode.

Apple credits inventors Chang Zhang of San Jose, Calif. and Qing Liu of Mountain View, Calif. with the invention.


Meanwhile, U.S. Patent Application number 20140063049, entitled "Information Display Using Electronic Diffusers," defines a way in which optical diffusers located on top of a device's display or camera openings could be manipulated to display messages. The claim could enable several new features, mostly revolving around low-power message display.

In one instance, the diffusers could be manipulated to hide a device's camera from the user. Such a method could be useful as a low-power way to notify the user of the camera's activation state — if the camera is on, for example, it would be visible.

This would be useful, Apple says, to provide built-in privacy protection for users. Another embodiment would use the configurable diffusers to change the light level of built-in flash units based on the ambient lighting in the area.

Apple credits inventor Joel S. Armstrong-Muntner of San Mateo, Calif. with the invention.