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Los Angeles – Stolen Apple devices, such as iPhones or tables, may soon record and send identifying information about the thief to the device’s owner, aiding law enforcement in the identification and prosecution of thieves. This capability is discussed in a patent filed by Apple and published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office titled “biometric capture for unauthorized user identification.”
The patent discusses the problem of unauthorized users accessing a device. While Apple’s technology already attempts to minimize the chances of unauthorized use, such as setting up passcodes and an automatic wiping of the device after a set number of failed attempts, these cannot prevent all use attempts. The technology discussed in the patent is an attempt to remedy this problem as well as help aide in the recovery of the device.
According to the patent, devices could capture and store biometric information of unidentified users such as fingerprints, photos or videos of the user, and geolocation and sound files of the environment. Basically, all use of the phone that could capture any personal information would be stored. The storing of this information could be triggered by a number of options including failed passcode attempts or instructions from another device of the user.
The information could then be transmitted automatically via email or upon remote initiation to another device owned by the user. A thief’s fingerprint, for example, used on a stolen iPhone could be emailed to the owner which can then relay it to authorities in hopes of catching the criminal and, ultimately, returning the device. The technology could also be used to catch a sneaky child or snooping spouse.
The patent covers a number of device options including phones, computers, and music players, but Apple phones and tablets are the only ones currently capable of fingerprint reading technology.
Apple, like other companies, often files patents for technology that they do not end up developing. It’s unclear at the moment whether the company plans on pursuing this technology or simply making sure it is there if they want it. Since this technology would be easy to include on devices, it seems this feature is likely to appear on upcoming Apple products.