Future AirPods could identify you by your ears

The next AirPods could well integrate an authentication system based on a recent Apple patent. The idea is to provide additional security at the level of the headphones.

AirPods Pro Ear

AirPods authentication for better security

In its patent, Apple notes that the problem with AirPods is that they are unable to determine whether a wearer is the authorized user of a connected device. The manufacturer suggests this can be a concern since anyone can put headphones in their ears while connected to a device belonging to another user. This may result in the disclosure of personal information by the connected device, for example via notifications announced by Siri.

This is where authentication comes in for AirPods using the ears through an ultrasonic signal. Apple explains:

For example, various features of the user’s ear provide an echo of the ultrasound signal that is unique to the user. Variations in the surface of the user’s ear canal may cause the ultrasound signal to reflect off the surface and generate an echo having a signature associated with the user. For example, a user with a larger ear canal may generate an echo with a longer reverberation time than a user with a smaller ear canal.

The patent also suggests that the AirPods could use other information, such as gait and voice thanks to gyroscopes, accelerometers and microphones. This would allow the headphones to establish an overall similarity score to verify that the wearer of the headphones is indeed the owner.

As always, the fact that Apple obtains a patent does not necessarily mean that the functionality will become a reality. But Apple has at least thought about the idea and it could see the light of day. After all, it’s extra security and we know that Apple puts a lot of emphasis on this.

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