Apple Glasses might be able to unlock devices just by looking at them

Glasses on iPhone 11 Pro
Glasses on iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has been granted a new patent that would allow Apple Glasses to remotely unlock devices.

Apple has scooped up a new patent today and it looks like it's very much written with Apple Glasses in mind. If put into practice, this patent could allow Apple's rumored smart glasses to unlock devices remotely – perhaps without any user input needed at all.

Spied by 9to5Mac, the new patent is titled "Authenticated device assisted user authentication" and doesn't specifically mention Apple Glasses. But it does mention a "device that is worn by a user as a head-mounted device." Make of that what you will.

Authenticated device assisted user authentication includes detecting, by an authenticated device, a proximate device, wherein a user of the authenticated device is currently authenticated to access a restricted-access function of the authenticated device. The method includes performing, by the authenticated device, an intent determination for the user with respect to a restricted-access function of the proximate device. The method includes in response to the intent determination indicating an intent to access the restricted-access function of the proximate device, performing, by the authenticated device, authentication assistance for the user with respect to the proximate device.

The patent suggests that a user might not need to do anything to initiate the unlocking process, but options would exist to require an action. That action could be a particular movement or gesture, for example.

There are of course a couple of things to note here. The first is that Apple patents everything its engineers come up with and few patents turn into products. If Apple Glasses do exist, they might not get this feature at all. Not to mention the second thing worth noting – Apple Glasses might not exist themselves.

That being said, the same sentiment was expressed before Apple Watch was announced. And now it's the most popular smartwatch on the planet. Recent reports did suggest that Apple Glasses are nearing production, too.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.