New Apple Patent Describes Fingerprint Sensor That Could Work Through Display

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a patent that describes a Touch ID sensor which could effectively detect and read a user's fingerprints through other components of the smartphone, "such as display stacks and touch screens" (via AppleInsider). While going unspecified, the technology aligns with the current rumors for the iPhone 8, which is expected to eliminate the Home Button for good and integrate various pieces of the smartphone directly into the display, including Touch ID.

ipadmini4touchid
Described in the new patent, there are many reasons Apple is looking to integrate Touch ID into the iPhone's screen, "not the least of which is an interest in avoiding assigning valuable surface space exclusively to an component that may only be used briefly during the process of identifying the user." But the company still had to face multiple issues when building the new technology, namely a "blurring of the electric field" that brought about a loss of resolution of the fingerprint images as they were being transferred through the space between the Touch ID sensor and the iPhone's screen.

To combat the gap between where the user places their finger, and the technology reading the fingerprint data under the display, Apple's patent proposes the use of electrostatic lenses, which are described as including "one or more patterned conductive layer(s)." In an example laid out by the patent, the position, relative voltage, and shapes of the patterned conductive layer or layers can be altered to shape the electric field specifically associated with the user's fingerprint, and the information can be held "in the region between the contact surface of the capacitive fingerprint sensor and the array of capacitive sensing elements."

touch-id-sensor-patent-1

Apple's patent aims to reduce the spread of a fingerprint's electric field using electrostatic lenses

The collected data would help improve the resolution of the user's fingerprint, despite the distance between the Touch ID sensing module and the place on the iPhone display where they place their finger. In the patent, Apple notes that the specific setting and location for these electrostatic lenses depend on the "geometry of the consumer electronics device and the effects of any intervening components," but touchscreens and display stacks are mentioned by name multiple times.

As is usual with patents, it is unclear whether the electrostatic lens technology will show up in any future Apple device at all, much less one set to debut in less than a year, but its descriptive ability to fuel one of the iPhone 8's biggest rumors is interesting all the same. Apple appears to have been working on the patent for a few years now, since it was originally filed on September 9, 2014, with inventor credit going to Jean-Marie Bussat.

Tag: Patent
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

keysofanxiety Avatar
82 months ago
I just don't know how they're going to make an all-display phone look good.
Looks pretty gorgeous to me! And that's just a mockup. :D

Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
82 months ago
Just further confirms what's coming soon. No bezels, no home button, touch ID in the screen... it's gonna be tough to wait for this to be released.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NT1440 Avatar
82 months ago
The 7 Home button is the equivalent of power-steering for a car—we all still see a steering wheel. Explain how a no home button design plays out on the display. I'm using Notes, how do I get to the Home screen? Explain it in a detailed manner. "A virtual Home button" is not a detailed explanation btw. How is it used?
Maybe wait for Apple's implementation instead of demanding forum members how a product that hasn't been released yet functions?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Fly (film) Avatar
82 months ago
Maybe wait for Apple's implementation instead of demanding forum members how a product that hasn't been released yet functions?
I'd rather discuss what's being suggested than simply eat potato chips. I'm curious.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RightMACatU Avatar
82 months ago
Skipping the 7 and ready for the 8. When can I pre-order? :D
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Fly (film) Avatar
82 months ago
The iPhone 7 will go down in history as Apples worst iPhone ... :eek:
By far fastest with best camera and industry-leading real-world water resistance = worst iPhone. Interesting.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone trade in

Apple Adjusts Trade-In Values for iPhones, Macs, and More

Wednesday January 25, 2023 9:40 am PST by
After announcing new Mac and HomePod models last week, Apple adjusted its trade-in values for select devices in the United States. iPhone trade-in values decreased by up to $80, and most Android smartphones also went down. Mac trade-in values remained unchanged or increased by up to $40 depending on the model, while some Apple Watch models increased in value and others decreased. Trade-in...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Expected Later This Year With These 7 Exclusive Features

Tuesday January 24, 2023 4:53 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least seven exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the seven features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...
Mac mini M2 2023

New 256GB Mac Mini and 512GB MacBook Pro Have Slower SSD Speeds Than Previous Models

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:11 pm PST by
While the new Mac mini with the M2 chip has a lower $599 starting price, the base model with 256GB of storage has slower SSD read and write speeds compared to the previous-generation model with the M1 chip and 256GB of storage. A teardown of the new Mac mini shared by YouTube channel Brandon Geekabit reveals that the 256GB model is equipped with only a single 256GB storage chip, while the...
apple tv 4k red image

Apple Releases tvOS 16.3

Tuesday January 24, 2023 10:10 am PST by
Apple today released tvOS 16.3, the third major point update to the tvOS 16 operating system that originally came out in September. Available for the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, tvOS 16.3 comes six weeks after tvOS 16.2, an update that added Apple Music Sing. The tvOS 16.3 update can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the ‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌ by going to System > Software...
watchOS 9 Feature

Apple Releases watchOS 9.3 With New Watch Face, Bug Fixes

Monday January 23, 2023 10:06 am PST by
Apple today released watchOS 9.3, the third major update to the watchOS 9 operating system that first launched in September. watchOS 9.3 comes over a month after watchOS 9.2, an update that added new Workout functionality and Crash Detection optimizations. watchOS 9.3 can be downloaded for free through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone by opening it up and going to General > Software Update. ...
iOS 16

iOS 16.3 for iPhone Launching Next Week With These 4 New Features

Friday January 20, 2023 11:43 am PST by
In a recent press release, Apple confirmed that iOS 16.3 will be released to the public next week. The software update will be available for the iPhone 8 and newer and includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped bigger features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for Apple ID accounts, worldwide ...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Pro Mac Mini

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
The new M2-series MacBook Pro and Mac mini models launched today, marking the debut of the first M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. We have the M2 Pro Mac mini on hand, and thought we'd take a look at the machine and do a series of benchmarks to see how it fits into Apple's lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Base model Mac mini machines come with either an M2 or M2 Pro...
Ventura Macs Feature Blue

Apple Releases macOS Ventura 13.2

Monday January 23, 2023 10:09 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Ventura 13.2, the second major update to the macOS Ventura operating system initially released in October. macOS Ventura 13.2 comes more than a month after macOS Ventura 13.1, an update that added the Freeform app and other changes. The ‌macOS Ventura‌ 13.2 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...