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Imagine using your iPhone as a Driving License or Passport

by Felix Omondi

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application for a ‘Document importation into secure element’ filed by Apple back in March.

The patent was on how iPhone users could replace their driving license, passport, membership cards, or any other ID document with a digital one accessible via their iOS devices. The patent talked about how a system can import credential data from a certified source, which can then be presented to any authority challenging the identity of the iPhone user as a form of proof.

As described, a short-range radio like an RFID or NFC will be used alongside a secure element for holding data. The device will acquire a ‘portion of credential information’ from an identification document that was issued legally.

According to the patent application, there is mention of an e-Passport. One that includes the use of chips to store user data; like names and place/date of birth among other personal identifiers. Apple also suggests that the proposed e-Passport could also be used to display passport number and other similar details.

Though Apple does not in explicit terms mention iPhone as the device for carrying this e-Passport, it still makes sense that it be the one. Maybe there is no need for even mentioning that; it goes without saying.

The iPhone already has advanced user recognition technologies including NFC, Touch ID, and Face ID among other authentication systems. As to whether or not your iPhone will replace your ID and other identification documents remain to be seen. But no one can question if the technology to do so is not already here. The only stumbling block is universal governments’ approval.

Before you start getting excited about the prospects of no longer need to bring all your IDs and documentation with you, it is important to remember that Apple does file for patents so many times. Most of these patented ideas never actually come to life.

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