The infamous fingerprint sensor on iPhone 5S is limited in its functionality right now, but it appears that Apple may harness its functionality to pair two devices.
Touch ID made its debut with the iPhone 5S and even though it was one of the biggest selling points of the new flagship iPhone, it doesn’t do much except give device access and authorize iTunes payments when the correct finger is placed on it. However, its possible that it might serve a greater purpose in the future.
It is widely believed that Touch ID’s functionality will be primarily geared towards payments, rumor has it that Apple could allow users to authorize payments for physical goods as well using the fingerprint sensor, but its not known right now if and when the company would get the entire system in place. Therefore its much more plausible to believe that biometric information scanned through Touch ID could be used to pair the company’s devices. A new Apple patent titled “Wireless Pairing and Communication Between Devices Using Biometric Data,” details how biometric information can be used instead of existing authentication methods to pair two devices over Bluetooth.
Existing methods require the users enter a passcode on both devices to pair them. The passcode is usually randomly generated, and even though its not entirely complex, using biometric information would make the process much more seamless and faster. So instead of having to enter the passcode, each user would simply authenticate the connection by pressing the correct finger on Touch ID, and the devices will be paired over Bluetooth. The patent also describes how the very same biometric information can be used to determine levels of access for paired devices. It would be up to the users to decide whether devices paired using a passcode get greater access or those paired via Touch ID do.
Even though Apple has got the patent, one must always consider the possibility that it could remain in cold storage for years to come. Companies file for hundreds of patents each year and that doesn’t necessarily mean every technology sees the light of day immediately. This does seem to be the next logical step for Touch ID if its functionalities are to be expanded, perhaps we may or may not see this come to light in iOS 8, which isn’t expected to be unveiled until Summer 2014.