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New Apple Patent Apps: Question Based Login, Hearing Aid Detection

New Apple Patent Apps: Question Based Login, Hearing Aid Detection

Two new Apple patent applications published this week show some interesting ways to interact with your iPhone. The first patent covers an unlock system that asks a user to identify a random image, and the second offers a way for the device to identify if the current user is wearing a hearing aid.



The first filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week reveals a new unlock method that could offer personalized security. The system would require a user to accurately identify one or more objects depicted in an image.

Image Based Authentication

The user would have a series of custom images selected for use by the unlock system, and the iPhone would randomly select one of the photos to display when the user wishes to unlock their device. The user would provide authentication data to associate with the image to ensure security.

The iPhone could, as one example, display a photos of a person, and a list of names. The user would then swipe the proper name associated with the person to unlock the device.

The picture based unlock method could be a more secure way to make sure only authorized users can access the device. While a sharp-eyed thief could watch a user unlock their device using a numeric code and learn the code, the random method of the photo display based security could make it more difficult to decipher the needed code.

The proposed invention, first filed with the USPTO in 2011 and published this week, is credited to inventor Ethan T. Lowry.

Hearing Aid Detection



Apple’s proposed concept for an advanced iPhone-based hearing aid system would automatically determine whether or not the device is being used by a hearing impaired user who is wearing a hearing aid. The system would use a proximity sensor and a magnetic field sensor to detect a nearby hearing aid.

The proximity sensor would detect a change in the distance of the iPhone to the user’s ear, and the magnetic field sensor could detect the movement of the iPhone in relation to the hearing aid.

“The device selects between a normal audio mode of operation and a hearing aid compatible mode of operation based on both the change in detected distance and the change in detected magnetic field,” the filing states.

If multiple users share a single phone, it would be cumbersome to disable and reenable hearing aid support according to which user is currently using the device. Apple’s system would solve this problem by automatically detecting the hearing aid and enabling the correct settings.

The application was first filed with the USPTO in August of 2011, and is credited to inventors Ching-yu John Tam and Shaohai Chen.