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Touch ID Patent Applications Show Details Behind 'Secure Enclave' and iPhone 5s Implementation

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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A pair of patent applications related to Apple's new flagship iPhone feature Touch ID shed some new light on how the fingerprint sensor itself works, as well as the "Secure Enclave" inside the A7 processor that analyzes and stores user fingerprints.

The first, as noticed by Patently Apple, details a method by which the iPhone scans a finger and then provides that data to the "Secure Enclave" for matching and eventual approval.

Rather than storing actual images of fingerprints, Apple takes a fingerprint map and runs it through a sort of encryption to prevent thieves from pulling fingerprint data from a compromised iPhone. The enclave only allows fingerprints to be checked against known valid ones, not the other way around.


From Patently Apple
:
Apple's invention includes a process of collapsing the full [finger] maps into a sort of checksum, hash function, or histogram. For example, each encrypted ridge map template can have some lower resolution pattern computed and associated with the ridge map. One exemplary pattern could be a histogram of, e.g., the most common angles (e.g., a 2 dimensional (2D) array of common angles). The exemplary pattern could include in each slot an average value over a respective vector of the map. The exemplary pattern could include in each slot a sum of the values over a respective vector of the map. The exemplary pattern could include the smallest or largest value within a respective vector of the map, or could be a difference between a largest and a smallest value within the respective vector of the map.
One interesting note about the secure enclave patent is the main inventor, Wayne Westerman. He was one of the lead inventors on the multi-touch technology that Apple eventually purchased and uses as the key feature in Apple's billion-dollar iPhone and iPad lines. Westerman has been a senior engineer at Apple since his company, Fingerworks, was purchased by Apple in 2005.

In a separate application, Apple lays out the different parts that make up the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, including the different bits that Apple shows off in its marketing materials (shown below). Bottom image courtesy Patently Apple.

AppleInsider notes that the patent addresses the opaque home button that nonetheless scans fingerprints:
Touch ID's aesthetic treatments have been included as well, as the patent details "an ink assembly...printed on the lens" that "has the effect that the otherwise-translucent button can be made opaque, so the elements of the fingerprint recognition sensor are not immediately visible to the user."
Neither patent has yet been awarded, with the applications initially filed in March. Provisional applications were filed back in May of 2012, illustrating how long the technology has been in development.

Article Link: Touch ID Patent Applications Show Details Behind 'Secure Enclave' and iPhone 5s Implementation
 

SmokyD

macrumors regular
Jan 1, 2007
153
0
Yes, but is the secure enclave stored as an irreversible hash? ;)
 
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troop231

macrumors 603
Jan 20, 2010
5,721
440
Was expecting unicorns along with a paperclip wielding MacGyver in the patent to be the magic behind Touch ID.
 
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WaxedJacket

macrumors 6502a
Oct 18, 2013
591
832
Haters hate but I'm still bummed that they didn't add the tech to the new iPads. :(
 
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158273

macrumors regular
Aug 29, 2013
128
2
The enclave only allows fingerprints to be checked against known valid ones, not the other way around.

Can someone explain to me how it could be "the other way around", unless Touch ID knew the billions of fingerprints that belong to other people?
 
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kdarling

macrumors P6
This is what it means...

The idea is to speed up fingerprint recognition by using the main processor, without giving up security.

The Secure Enclave Processor (SEP) reduces the fingerprint patterns to non-identifiable data, that can then be searched/matched by the much more powerful main Application Processor (AP) without compromising security.

The AP then hands back the short list of POTENTIAL matches to the SEP, which only has to do a detailed match of the secure data it has, against that short list.

Of course, this division of labor makes more sense if you're matching lots of fingers. Or if the SEP is really slow in comparison to the AP.
 
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kockgunner

macrumors 68000
Sep 24, 2007
1,560
17
Vancouver, Canada
"Can't innovate anymore, my ass!"

Those who know less about something tend to think they know it all. They underestimate the complexity and think things can't possibly be this complicated. Yup, this is on the same level as the Motorola Atrix sensor :rolleyes:
 
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i.mac

macrumors 6502a
Dec 14, 2007
996
247
How long before samedung shamefully steals, copies, and claims as their own this invention?
 
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204353

Cancelled
Jul 13, 2008
955
114
How long before samedung shamefully steals, copies, and claims as their own this invention?

I personally hope they screw it up in the fashion of the HTC One Max's sensor. Man, that thing sucks.
 
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kdarling

macrumors P6
How long before samedung shamefully steals, copies, and claims as their own this invention?

Or maybe they'll just include a powerful enough secure processor, that such a helper hack is not necessary.

--

Btw, it's really childish when people make up nicknames for companies. It's like putting a giant immaturity mark on your post. Hard to take anyone's opinion seriously after that.

Reminds me of when people used to call Apple "Crapple", or use "M$" for Microsoft, or use "Commode-Door" for Commodore.
 
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JPivlit

macrumors newbie
Jul 6, 2009
5
0
It's funny how the scandal of the Touch ID being bypassed is no longer in the news. Anybody know if it was just a hoax? I heard it was because you needed expensive equipment to duplicate the fingerprint.
 
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TMay

macrumors 68000
Dec 24, 2001
1,520
1
Carson City, NV
The idea is to speed up fingerprint recognition by using the main processor, without giving up security.

The Secure Enclave Processor (SEP) reduces the fingerprint patterns to non-identifiable data, that can then be searched/matched by the much more powerful main Application Processor (AP) without compromising security.

The AP then hands back the short list of POTENTIAL matches to the SEP, which only has to do a detailed match of the secure data it has, against that short list.

Of course, this division of labor makes more sense if you're matching lots of fingers. Or if the SEP is really slow in comparison to the AP.

Part of the ARM v8 architecture?
 
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bpbatch

macrumors member
Dec 24, 2010
75
1
••this post has been deleted by the author***
 
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mdelvecchio

macrumors 68040
Sep 3, 2010
3,117
1,056
It's funny how the scandal of the Touch ID being bypassed is no longer in the news. Anybody know if it was just a hoax? I heard it was because you needed expensive equipment to duplicate the fingerprint.

it did require equipment and expertise. but that is not the same thing as a hoax. it's just something most people dont need to worry about.
 
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fabrica64

macrumors newbie
Oct 17, 2013
17
3
How long before samedung shamefully steals, copies, and claims as their own this invention?

In this case is Apple copying others' invention. Getting a "map" and hash from a fingerprint and storing in a secure element is something that has already been invented and produced by other fingerprint sensors companies. it's a bit of a shame that Apple put it as "Apple invention"
 
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scribblez

macrumors newbie
Nov 22, 2013
3
0
See that Samsung? Patently Apple. Means, screw off

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In this case is Apple copying others' invention. Getting a "map" and hash from a fingerprint and storing in a secure element is something that has already been invented and produced by other fingerprint sensors companies. it's a bit of a shame that Apple put it as "Apple invention"

Sure has but this patent is for phone stuff. I used thumb print scanner back in 2004 to sign into my work. If Samsung didn't have enough brain power to think of this before Apple for their devices then that is their issue. Patent was awarded so you have no say in it.

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Wow, thats sophisticated.

Usually Apple's way is. Then other companies do a cheap knock off which hardly operates at all, think android lag of scrolling.

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"Can't innovate anymore, my ass!"

Those who know less about something tend to think they know it all. They underestimate the complexity and think things can't possibly be this complicated. Yup, this is on the same level as the Motorola Atrix sensor :rolleyes:

nicely said
 
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thermodynamic

Suspended
May 3, 2009
1,340
1,192
USA
"Can't innovate anymore, my ass!"

Those who know less about something tend to think they know it all. They underestimate the complexity and think things can't possibly be this complicated. Yup, this is on the same level as the Motorola Atrix sensor :rolleyes:

Fingerprint/touch ID has been around for MANY years.

Not to mention, innovation or research for its own sake is deemed bad, but if Xerox didn't do its own share then Apple would have had nothing to copy. *sniff* /tangent

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It's funny how the scandal of the Touch ID being bypassed is no longer in the news. Anybody know if it was just a hoax? I heard it was because you needed expensive equipment to duplicate the fingerprint.

I concur.

How long before samedung shamefully steals, copies, and claims as their own this invention?

Let's write like adults, then we can discuss the issue like adults.

Especially as Apple has done its share of copying, if you really paid attention... Especially with Android and the original GUI...
 
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