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This new Apple patent unlocks your Apple Watch just by wearing it

Taking ease of use to the next level.

Apple watch six
Image: Apple

A new patent filed by Apple shows that a future Apple Watch might be able to recognize your wrist and unlock itself, just by putting it on. The new “Wrist ID” system uses a light sensor on the back of the watch to authenticate the user wearing it.

The core of the unlock technology is an expanded version of how the Touch ID sensor works with your fingerprints. A light shines into your wrist, which creates a field image of the area. The pattern of veins on that section should be unique, making it as secure as any fingerprint based unlock technology.

This fits neatly with Apple’s ethos of making things simpler for their users. The small size of the screen on the Apple Watch makes password-based unlocks unwieldy in practice, and putting an in-screen fingerprint sensor might also be technically possible but not without increasing the size of the watch. The same could be said for the sensors needed for Face ID.

Apple watch patent
Image: USPTO

Using a sensor on the back of the watch removes all of these considerations, and there’s already a ready light source in the sensors that Apple uses for health tracking. Those sensors do have some issues with tattooed skin, and possibly issues with users with darker skin pigmentation, so Apple would have to solve this before widespread use of any “Wrist ID” system.

Will we all unlock our devices by simply wearing them one day? One can dream about the death of the password, especially on screens that are too small to easily type on. As usual, it should be noted that this is just a patent application, and could not see the light of day for some time.

What do you think? Would you like to see unlock tech like this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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