Apple has created a new secure ultra-widespread location tracking and voice-verification system

The US Patent and Trademark Office today published a patent application from Apple relating to Ultra Wideband (UWB) location-tracking technologies for a voice input process. In the future, a user’s iPhone may be in a certain direction targeting the first device, such as the HomePod, before instructions are executed to Siri to turn on a smart device in the home, request a ringtone or movie, and so forth.

Apple notes in its patent filing that secure authentication of users to use electronic devices is important to prevent unauthorized individuals from easily hacking devices, accessing sensitive electronic data, etc.

As is also known, many of the current forms of authentication that were previously sufficient are becoming less so due to advances in technology that can be used to subvert those forms of authentication. There are currently no suitable solutions to the previous technological problem related to the computer.

Among other things, the detailed description in Apple’s patent filing discusses enabling voice-controlled devices to request a positional UWB element or routing to verify a voice authentication request. In In this way, the precise location capabilities of the UWB technology can be used so that only the audio data that matches the expected audio footprint and that It also satisfies a positional factor or a specific directive that may qualify for authentication.

In some examples, a UWB signal transmitter may only transmit a UWB signal(s) for location tracking and/or authentication by another device. Once the transmitter determines that it is in the correct direction.

For example, a user may want to change the settings of a smart thermostat, but the thermostat may require a verified UWB signal from the user’s personal device in order to be present to perform thermostat adjustment, as described in the FIG patent. 3 below.

As another example, suppose a user issues a voice command to a voice assistant. The voice assistant can be set to require an accompanying UWB signal from the user’s personal device to be detected before the command is executed. In particular, the voice assistant device may detect that the expected UWB signal is coming from the same location where it detected the audio is coming from. An order to perform the action, such as subscribing to an unlimited music service, may then be approved. Also, according to this example, In some embodiments, the personal device may be required to be carried in a specified direction (eg, perpendicular) to authorize the voice command.

In addition, in some examples, the method may include tracking the location of the second device using one or more UWB signals and, depending on the location of the second device, performing the operation using voice input.

In addition, or alternatively, The method may include tracking the orientation of the second device using one or more UWB signals and, depending on the orientation of the second device, performing the operation using the voice input.

Apple FIG patent. Figure 4 below is an illustrative example of a smartphone end user controlling a digital assistant while the digital assistant tracks the smartphone using UWB in accordance with current principles. Apple also notes that the end user’s device can also be a mixed reality headset, smart glasses, Apple Watch, iPad, MacBook, and IoT devices.

Apple FIG patent. Figure 5 below shows an example of logic in an example flowchart form that can be implemented by a UWB location tracking device consistent with current principles.

3 Apple patent forms.  4-7 - Apple's IP Report - UWB+ Location Tracking

Apple FIG patent. Figure 6 above shows an example of a graphical user interface (GUI) that can be rendered in device settings based on UWB location tracking consistent with current principles; Figs. Figure 7 shows an example of a graphical user interface that can be rendered on the screen to configure one or more device settings to operate in accordance with current principles.

Apple FIG patent. Figure 8 below shows an example of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that might be presented on the screen to prompt the user to select an orientation for his/her device to use for UWB location tracking and to perform voice commands consistent with current principles.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

4 Apple patent forms.  8 & 9 UWB Site - Apple's IP Report Visibly Sept 22, 2022

Apple FIG patent. Figure 9 above shows an illustrative example of UWB location accuracy consistent with current principles.

For more details, see Apple patent application 20220301556.

10.51FX - Patent Application Tape

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