The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an application from Apple that indicates it may introduce biometrics to future models of the AirPods for users authentication purposes. The document, spotted by Patently Apple, indicates that this could include not just Touch and Face ID, but other things like the inner construction of a user or how they walk.
Apple Looking at Biometrics For AirPods
The patent notes that:
Conventional systems are generally lacking with respect to user identification using headphones. In particular, traditional systems are not well equipped to determine whether a user wearing a respective set of headphones is an authorized user of a corresponding device, such as a mobile phone.
Consequently, it argues, “conventional systems may risk releasing personal information from an associated device to unauthorized wearers of corresponding headphones.”
Specifically, on the headphones, the document states:
Biometric information associated with an ear of the user may be obtained from wireless headphones. For example, various signals may be output at wireless headphones wherein an impulse response is received from wireless headphones based on the output signals. The impulse response may correspond to a biometric representation related to an ear of the user (e.g., an inner-ear representation).
Given the patent has only just been granted, it is unlikely we will see this idea in the wild for some time. However, it also indicates that biometrics in AirPods and perhaps other headphones is something Apple is actively looking into.