Apple filed a patent at the United States Patent and Trademark Workplace, (UPTO), titled “Consumer Identification Using headphones,” which outlines how it might be able to identify AirPods owners and enhance their privacy.
Apple claims that someone might put on AirPods belonging to another person and that it could end up revealing personal data like Siri asserting alerts or updating calendars. It is correct as AirPods do not have a biometric authentication-like feature and it is also difficult to implement.
However, the patent application filed in the latest round of litigation attempts to address the problem. Apple claims that it will use near devices, ultrasonic warns, speech recognition, and customer walking patterns to determine who has the authorization to use the system.
This is very similar in concept to Apple’s Unlocked with Apple Watch feature, which allows for unlocking an iPhone from someone wearing a mask. Apple’s plan appears to be a more detailed variant of that. Apple claims that headphones, iPhones, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch can all work together to identify their owner.
Apple reports that it will calculate the similarity score based on primary and secondary motion data. If this rating reaches the threshold, the owner is the person wearing the AirPods.
The headphones and iPhone motion determine the primary motion. The motion of both the iPhone and Apple Watch determines the second motion. Apple stated that they will use ultrasonic sound to determine if an individual is a current owner.
The concept is fascinating, but Apple has yet not specified what benefits users would get from this feature. Siri can stop you from claiming any messages that you’ve received, even if someone else is wearing your AirPods.