Thieves’ heartbeats to reveal stolen iPhones

Apple has filed a patent for a system to identify stolen and jailbroken devices, which could use the handset to tell on thieves by monitoring heartbeats and “vibration profiles”.

Thieves' heartbeats to reveal stolen iPhones

If developed, the system being patented would help the company identify “unauthorised users of an electronic device” in order to alert the phone’s owner or shut it down.

While the system is designed to deal with stolen handsets, the patent explicitly mentions jailbreaking as a sign a device has been stolen, and could mean Apple is able to shut down such cracked handsets.

The patent application includes a system to detect and deal with “hacking the electronic device, jailbreaking the electronic device, unlocking the electronic device, removing a SIM card from the electronic device, and moving at least a predetermined distance away from a synced device.”

Some of the methods Apple is mooting to detect unauthorised users include making use of the phone’s camera to compare photos of the owner with the user, voice recognition, and even measuring heart beats, to compare it to the “heart signature of the owner”.

The patent also describes using the accelerometer to record a “vibration profile” so Apple can “determine a current mode of transportation of the electronic device.”

Once it’s determined the user isn’t authorised, the phone’s owner can be notified via “subtle” ways such as text or email, and the phone can be locked down, wiped or traced – similar to other handset security systems. This system would also let Apple monitor the use of the stolen phone, to see calls made and websites visited.

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