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Apple prepares a patent to recognize the veins of the face: they want to prevent a twin from unlocking the phone to another

Apple is working on a new patent. This time, the company that is a pioneer in introducing standards in the technology industry, is working on a new version of its facial recognition system that will allow distinguishing two physically similar users by patterning the veins on his face to verify identity in an authentication process. It is to prevent Twins other people’s phones are unlocked, among other applications.


The specific work is on a system of evaluation of “subepidermal” characteristics “under the skin” that, according to the text of the patent registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, would identify the veins of the face to recognize the user in situations where the authentication process may be less precise.

Although the central point seems to be avoiding a very common problem for those who have siblings Twins or Twins, where the phone cannot distinguish when two faces are very similar, but different peopleIt is an advanced technology that could have other applications due to its immense degree of precision.

The company notes that the subepidermal image of a user’s face to try to unlock a device can be used to enhance the authentication process based on facial recognition.

Facial recognition would work under the skin. (DPA)

Facial recognition would work under the skin. (DPA)

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A vein map

The system is to create a map 3D veins of a user using subepidermal imaging techniques, such as an infrared sensor on a camera that captures the patterns of what we don’t see on the face.

This currently works with Face ID: Infrared light is emitted in patterns on a user’s face and is read by an imaging device. Apple’s new patent is specific to detecting veins rather than the outside.

Apple's patent for recognizing veins on the face. (Manzana)

Apple’s patent for recognizing veins on the face. (Manzana)

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Like other biometric methods, the system has to determine if there is a close enough match between the scanned data and the previously taken version used to register the user.

If the match is close enough, the system effectively confirms that the user is authorized and granted access. And unlock the phone.

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Patents and prior work

Apple is working on a new patent. (AFP)

Apple is working on a new patent. (AFP)

It is very common for Apple to file numerous patent applications every week. Many times, and due to how pioneering the company is in these matters, these are either under development or do not reach a mass audience. But this could progress rapidly.

The inventors are identified as Micah P. Kalscheur and Feng Tang. The patent was filed in February 2018.

The truth is that the scope of this could go beyond facial recognition to unlock a device, and could reach medical uses. A related patent granted in May 2018 to “vein imaging using pulsed radiation detection” reuses the concept of infrared emission and reception to monitor blood vessel patterns, but add time-of-flight pulse calculations to produce a three-dimensional map.

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A similar concept has also been reflected on for the Apple Watch, which uses a brightfield camera to detect patterns of veins, arteries, blood perfusion in the skin and tendons, and hair follicle patterns, among other elements, that could uniquely identify a user.

Apple is also investigating how veins in a user’s palm can be analyzed as part of style recognition. Touch ID, except that the user presses the full screen of the device by hand.

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