KEY POINTS

  • Apple's "Gaze" patent will make it harder for snoopers to catch a glimpse of important documents on a device owner's display
  • The contents of a display would be mostly limited to the eyes of a device owner and unreadable to people around them
  • The patent is promising, but there is no guarantee it will ever be integrated into Apple devices

Keeping the contents on the displays of iPads, iMacs and MacBooks private is a necessity these days, especially for those who have to keep important data or information safe. Most are advised to take the necessary precautions, but others need to be reminded. A new patent from Apple could come in handy.

Apple was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday called the “gaze-dependent display encryption.” In the patent, which first surfaced in March 2020 and was filed in September 2019, the company suggested that through the use of obscurity, a document could be read in public by a user without having to worry about someone possibly catching a glimpse of its contents.

With this feature, an Apple device would be able to tell where a user is looking at in the display. The point on the screen where the user's gaze falls would become the device's starting point.

Starting from this point to a limited surrounding area, the display would be readable. Beyond that, the image would be altered and become practically unreadable, preventing snoopers from catching a glimpse.

The unreadable area of the Apple device can be accomplished in various ways. The device could either change the text to useless and unintelligible versions or add graphical filters that would make it hard for snoops to see.

This would be a welcome feature for those using their iPads, iMacs or MacBooks for work and need to safeguard their documents. For snoopers, this would be a big problem since they would need to come very close to the user to be able to see and understand what is actually on the screen. Apple device owners would be the only ones who can get a clear glimpse of the contents on the display.

The people behind the patent are Mehmet Agaoglu, Cheng Chen, Harsha Shirahatti, Zhibing Ge, Shih-Chyuan Fan Jiang, Nischay Goel, Jiaying Wu and William Sprague.

 While it makes sense for Apple device owners, such as businessmen and researchers, fans shouldn't get their hopes up just yet. Apple has filed many patents in the past but not all are implemented.

Apple’s wide array of devices have been getting new features that include face ID, Attention Awareness and eye-tracking elements. The “gaze patent” could come in handy, but there is no official word on when it could be added to the mix.

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