For as much thought as we put into PINs, passwords, and biometric authentication on our phones, security often feels like an afterthought – or not thought about at all – when it comes to wearables like smartwatches. To an extent, that makes sense; after all, we’re a lot less likely to accidentally lose track of a gadget that’s securely strapped to our wrist. But as we start using wearables for more and more functions, maybe especially in terms of mobile payments, is it worth thinking a little more about how to properly secure them? Samsung seems to be doing just that, and a recently published patent application shows one way it might add biometric authentication to a wearable.
Samsung’s patent suggests a novel method of authenticating wearable users. Rather than taking up space with a big fingerprint scanner on the face of a smartwatch, or a similarly large camera for iris or face recognition (and who wants to be holding their wrist up to their face all the time?), Samsung suggests a side-mounted IR camera that scans the veins in our hand to recognize unique patterns, positively identifying a previously authenticated user.
The company goes on to talk about some of the things wearables could do with the ability to quickly and easily identify users, and interestingly enough it focuses less on the security aspect of the tech, and more on how the device could automatically pull up settings from multiple user profiles, customizing things to the user’s preferences.
Maybe we’re missing the point here, but do a lot of smartwatch users really share their wearables on a regular basis? Perhaps Samsung’s just shooting broadly in an attempt to cover its patent bases – better to have an idea patented than not, right? So far there’s no sign that Samsung actually intends to implement this system in a future Gear model, but you never know.