Apple Patent Application for Combination Fingerprint Scanner and NFC Circuitry Surfaces

Apple has filed for a European patent (via Free Patents) detailing a system for combining a fingerprint scanner with near field communication (NFC) technology, allowing for dual modes of operation in a single space-saving design. The patent application was published yesterday and discovered by Patently Apple.

The European patent application is derived from a U.S. patent application filed in March 2012 and quietly published on Thursday without mentioning Apple as the assignee, and the applications describe the fingerprint/NFC circuitry as embedded into a button or other surface included on a mobile device. That implementation lines up with numerous rumors of a fingerprint-scanning home button being included in Apple's upcoming iPhone 5S, although the potential inclusion NFC on the iPhone 5S has not been a frequent topic of rumor discussion.

A touch sensor or fingerprint sensor may have an array of conductive electrodes for gathering sensor data from the front face of an electronic device, an edge of an electronic device, a button in an electronic device, or other portion of an electronic device. A fingerprint sensor or other sensor may also be formed using optical structures such as one or more light sources and receivers.

Near field communications circuitry may be included in the electronic device. Circuitry such as filter or switching circuitry may be used to couple both the near field communications circuitry and the sensor circuitry to a common conductive structure. This allows the conductive structure to be shared between sensor functions such as fingerprint or touch sensor functions and near field communications functions.

Control circuitry within the electronic device may operate the device in multiple modes. When operated in a sensor mode, the sensor circuitry may use the conductive structure to gather fingerprint data or other sensor data. When operated in near field communications mode, the near field communications circuitry can use the conductive structure to transmit and receive capacitively coupled or inductively coupled near field communications signals.

fingerprint_patent2
Beyond the home button, Apple suggests that other areas on a mobile device can be used to house the combination sensor, including but not limited to the device’s screen, ear speaker, side bezel, and built-in bottom speaker, as well as other inactive areas on the phone such as next to the home button or near the headphone jack.

fingerprint_patent1
Notably, the patent also discusses and depicts a metal ring around the home button and its embedded sensor, something that has been seen on photos of what is alleged to be packaging for the iPhone 5S. Previously, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that the phone will have a sapphire-covered convex home button to support the fingerprint sensor, but more recent reports have claimed a relatively non-distinct design for the home button that may contain a shinier border as seen in the photos of the packaging.

fingerprint_patent3
Apple will unveil the next-generation iPhone 5S and the low-cost iPhone 5C during an iPhone event next Tuesday. In addition to a fingerprint sensor, the iPhone 5S is expected to have an upgraded processor, an improved camera, and a new "champagne" color option.

Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

HiRez Avatar
99 months ago
The fingerprint sensor has me worried.

Electricity, fire, and running water are pretty frightening too.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Crzyrio Avatar
99 months ago
Is this new? I mean my wife's atrix did this 3 years ago.

Nope, not one bit new. Except Apple actually knows what they are doing.

Yes it was in the Atrix 3 years ago but was it useful? no, except for maybe that 1 person

the iPhone wasnt the first Smartphone, yet it was something incredibly new and changed the direction phones went in.

Apple does not come out with new technology, they take the technology there and make it useful to the consumers. They dont just throw tech at us and expect us to take the time to figure it out.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BookerDW Avatar
99 months ago
"Your", not "You're".

Really? We're still doing this?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Porco Avatar
99 months ago
With the confirmation this week that the NSA work with major hardware manufacturers to purposefully put backdoors, flaws, vulnerabilities etc in anything they can to exploit, just in case they ever feel they need to, I think Apple, like all other major tech companies based in the US and its allied countries (and I would bet most countries try similar things with companies based within their borders too) are going to have an have an increasingly problematic time selling this kind of stuff as being truly secure. Because we all know that if they've hobbled it, they are 'legally' gagged from saying so too.

I've not been a fan of the idea of tying biometrics to Apple products anyway, but whatever your view it's a sad fact that whatever assurances are given over the security of such products don't really mean very much anymore, and this could have a horribly undesirable chilling effect upon innovation and progress.

On a positive note, it could increase the use of truly open source projects, as the only real way to inspire confidence in consumers in the future.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Some guy Avatar
99 months ago
Imagine if it could read your finger when it was CLOSE to the home button, not even having to touch it. You're phones unlocked before you even look at it.

"Your", not "You're".

Also, the time difference between your finger being close (perhaps 1 cm) and actually touching the button would be extremely small. It wouldn't make a difference, and it would be completely unnecessary.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
user-name-here Avatar
99 months ago
The fingerprint sensor has me worried.
Our national debt, global warming, and high divorce rate has me much more worried than a fingerprint scanner.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
apple event hashflag

Twitter Hashflag for April 20 Apple Event Goes Live

Tuesday April 13, 2021 2:21 pm PDT by
Following the overnight Siri leak and subsequent announcement that Apple will hold a media event on Tuesday, April 20, a new Twitter hashflag has appeared to help provide visibility for the event on the platform. For the last several recent events, Apple has utilized hashflags, which are little icons next to hashtags on Twitter, as a way to market its events. The company first started the...
macos catalina serial number

Apple Preparing Rollout of New Randomized Product Serial Numbers Ahead of 'Spring Loaded' Event

Wednesday April 14, 2021 2:08 am PDT by
Apple is advising its authorized premium resellers and dealers to prepare for new products with 10 and 12 digital serial numbers, days ahead of when it's expected to reveal a slew of new products. MacRumors previously reported that Apple plans to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in early 2021. The company now seems to be preparing for that roll-out, telling...
iphone12cameras

Kuo: 2022 iPhones to Feature 48-Megapixel Camera, 8K Video, and 6.1 and 6.7" Sizes With No 5.4" Mini Option

Tuesday April 13, 2021 10:45 pm PDT by
The upcoming 2022 iPhone lineup will feature two 6.1-inch devices and two 6.7-inch devices, with no mini-sized 5.4-inch iPhone, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Two of the iPhones will be high-end models and two of the iPhones will be lower-end models, similar to the current iPhone 12 lineup. Apple introduced the 5.4-inch...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...