Future iPhones might get x-ray vision if a new Apple patent published May 15 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is any indication. The patent titled “Vein imaging using detection of pulsed radiation,” – which was published alongside 67 other patents – describes an infrared imaging method that enables a device to capture subcutaneous blood vessel patterns.
Vein ID, as it is referred to in an image conceptualizing the system, appears to be intended for face-vein biometric recognition, as opposed to the more common finger vein or palm vein modalities. A test image shows the invention mapping veins in a subject’s forehead.
While a patent filed by Apple is never a guarantee of intent to implement new technology, Vein ID could go a long way in enhancing the contactless authentication the company is embracing in the wake of iPhone X. Face ID, the 3D facial recognition technology expected to become standard on iPhones this year, has proven susceptible to certain types of presentation attacks involving 3D printed masks. Vascular authentication, thanks to its sub-dermal nature, is generally regarded as virtually un-spoofable and therefore would give would-be biometric hackers a run for their money, especially if implemented in tandem with facial recognition.
As it stands, Vein ID is yet another novel modality in the expanding mobile biometrics landscape.
May 15, 2018 – by Peter B. Counter