Apple is also exploring new ways to integrate user authentication on AirPods.
A new patent titled “User identification using earphones” explains that AirPods will be able to authenticate the user using other nearby devices, ultrasonic signals, voice recognition and the same user rhythm.
In the document, Apple explains that one of the problems with AirPods is the inability to determine whether or not the wearer is the authorized user of the connected device. According to the company, this limit must be exceeded because otherwise anyone can put the headphones in their ear while connected to a device belonging to another user, with risks related to privacy.
The system is able to circumvent the need for Face ID, Touch ID or any other type of biometric authentication on a separate device, as it will use a “similarity score” to verify a user’s identity. This similarity score can be based on several variables, such as the proximity of other devices belonging to the owner of the connected device. However, Apple says biometrics could be used to increase the accuracy of the similarity score. For this, Apple proposes to reproduce and receive ultrasonic sounds inside the headphones:
“For example, various characteristics of the user’s ear provide an echo of the ultrasonic signal that is unique to each person. Variations in the surface of the user’s ear canal can cause the ultrasound signal to reflect off the surface and generate an echo with a signature associated with the user. For example, a user with a larger ear canal may cause an echo with a longer reverberation time than a user with a smaller ear canal. »
Apple adds that AirPods could also use information gathered about a user’s pace and voice from the AirPods’ gyroscopes, accelerometers and microphones to determine whether they have the connected device. Together, these different pieces of data provide a similarity score that could authenticate users once the required threshold is reached.
These innovations could also be implemented on current models via the AirPods firmware update.