Head Unlock PatentSource: USPTO

What you need to know

  • An Apple Patent has revealed a system that could allow users to authenticate themselves with multiple devices.
  • The system involves wearing a head-mounted wearable device that could verify the identity of a user.
  • The patent could be another clue pointing towards an augmented/virtual reality experience from Apple.

An Apple patent has revealed how someone using an AR headset could unlock multiple devices at the same time.

The newly published patent is titled 'Authenticated Device Assisted User Authentication' and its description states:

One aspect of the disclosure is a system for authenticated device assisted user authentication. The system includes an authenticated device that is worn by a user as a head-mounted device, wherein the user is currently authenticated to access a restricted-access function of the authenticated device. The system also includes a proximate device that has a locked state and an unlocked state, wherein a restricted-access function of the proximate device is inaccessible by the user in the locked state, and the restricted-access function of the proximate device is accessible by the user in the unlocked state. The authenticated device is operable to detect the proximate device, to determine an intent of the user to access the restricted-access function of the proximate device while the proximate device is in the locked state, and to emit authentication data. Based on the authentication data, the proximate device identifies the user as an authenticated user and enters the unlocked state from the locked state, such that the restricted-access function of the proximate device is accessible to the user.

The patent diagrams (pictured) very clearly shows someone wearing some kind of AR/VR headset, and using it to unlock multiple devices all at the same time. The background of the patent notes:

Many electronic devices restrict access to various features based on authentication of the identity of the user. When multiple devices are used concurrently, procedures for unlocking each device individually can delay user access and reduce the quality of the user experience.

Buried in the patent are some big clues that Apple may be looking further into an augmented or virtual reality experience:

The head-mounted wearable device 222 may include one or more presentation or display units. For example, the head-mounted wearable device 222 may include one or more presentation units operable to present or display audio, visual, or both, content to the user 230, such as in an augmented reality configuration, a mixed reality configuration, or a virtual reality configuration. In some implementations, the head-mounted wearable device 222 may include one or more presentation units operable to output one or more signals, such as an audio presentation, an ultrasound presentation, a visual presentation, an infrared presentation, or the like, to the environment of the user 230, or a portion thereof.

Of course, as with all patents, there is no guarantee that this will ever see the light of day as a product, however, rumors of an Apple-powered AR/VR experience are rife. If it is indeed planning to launch some kind of wearable headset, this patent would allow you to unlock all of your Apple devices in the vicinity at the same time.