Apple is looking to get into the business of unique device identification, Patently Apple reports, filing a patent that details plans for a "digital handshake" using next-generation cameras capable of reading specially coated, invisible ink.
The technology would be used for enterprise, social networking, and gaming applications.
While technology already exists that can transfer information between two devices quickly and securely (such as Bump and PayPal), Apple plans on revolutionizing the process and the media used to create a more robust, yet simpler transfer method.
In the case of a mobile-device data transfer, according to Patently Apple, "one or more cameras of the first device could capture images of the device environment. The first device could process the captured images to detect a second device in the field of view, and to identify one or more cameras of the second device."
Basically, if my camera sees your device, it can sign off on it and send you a particular set of data. All you have to do is display a particular key on your phone's display to confirm.
Further extending this concept, Apple says that hiding the key in the bezel of an iPad, or the logo (or any other mapped area) on any device, could trigger device recognition and data transfers.
The patent application goes on to explain several uses of the technology, including sharing gaming information, sharing documents, VPN access, passwords and biometric security, and retail.
Near-field communication (NFC) has been a long-rumored feature upgrade for forthcoming iPhones as an e-wallet payment process, though this patent outlines the potential for retail locations to quickly obtain information about their customers (including their payment options).
The digital-handshake protocol would be used to authenticate devices, set up a secure connection between the retailer and the customer, and process the payment (or transfer prescription information and payments, in the case of a pharmacy).
Given the recent rumors about NFC, do you expect this new technology to appear on Apple's mobile devices first, or after NFC? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!