Mobile Technology

Say cheese! Apple anti-theft patent hints at recording video, fingerprints of iPhone thieves

Say cheese! Apple anti-theft p...
A patent awarded to Apple describes an iPhone security system which secretly records fingerprints, photos, video and audio of a thief and sends it back to the device's owner
A patent awarded to Apple describes an iPhone security system which secretly records fingerprints, photos, video and audio of a thief and sends it back to the device's owner
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A patent awarded to Apple describes an iPhone security system which secretly records fingerprints, photos, video and audio of a thief and sends it back to the device's owner
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A patent awarded to Apple describes an iPhone security system which secretly records fingerprints, photos, video and audio of a thief and sends it back to the device's owner
Three years after Touch ID made its debut in the iPhone 5s, Apple is at least exploring ways to turn it (and other sensors into a more robust anti-theft system
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Three years after Touch ID made its debut in the iPhone 5s, Apple is at least exploring ways to turn it (and other sensors into a more robust anti-theft system

Though tools are available to remotely lock, clear data and track a stolen smartphone, Apple appears to be looking into ways to identify grab and run thieves. A patent awarded to the company last week outlines a system that would collect data on an iPhone thief – such as photos and fingerprints – and forward it to the owner or the authorities.

If your iPhone goes missing, anti-theft apps can help you locate and secure it. Find My iPhone, for example, allows you to use any computer or another iOS device to show on a map where it is and where it's been, then lock it or erase all personal data remotely.

A new patent, awarded to Apple last week, could see future iOS devices turning their many sensors into eyes and ears to help identify the thief. The document describes a system similar to Find My iPhone, which can be remotely activated to start tracking biometric information on any unauthorized users, including recording fingerprints, photos, video, audio or "forensic user interface information." And it would be sneaky about it too, capturing all that data without letting the thief know (though if Apple launched a major security feature on a new iPhone, we'd likely all know about it as soon as it was announced).

That information would be stored somewhere on the device, hidden away, encrypted and timestamped. Once the owner, or the police, requests it from another device, it's all sent through the cloud to help identify who has the stolen smartphone and where it can be found.

Three years after Touch ID made its debut in the iPhone 5s, Apple is at least exploring ways to turn it (and other sensors into a more robust anti-theft system
Three years after Touch ID made its debut in the iPhone 5s, Apple is at least exploring ways to turn it (and other sensors into a more robust anti-theft system

While that sounds useful, it's important to keep in mind that this kind of system might fall into murky legal waters. Would it be legal to record someone without their permission or knowledge, even if they have stolen your phone? And would all that information be accessible by the original owner, or just forwarded straight to the authorities?

Of course, as with any patent, Apple might just be staking a claim in these kinds of systems, and, based on statistics of Apple's used vs. unused patents, the odds that it actually makes it into a future iPhone are slim.

Source: US Patent Office

2 comments
Wolf0579
This seems all well and good, but even now, when you take your laptop to the police and SHOW THEM WHERE YOUR STOLEN (insert apple product here) IS, they will not take any action because they are totally over extended.
Eric the Red
I suppose it could be a deterrent to thieves if they thought their personal details were being recorded and sent to the cloud, assuming they think!