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

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
53 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)
Avatar
53 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)
Avatar
53 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)
Avatar
53 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)
Avatar
53 months ago
Skipping the 7 and ready for the 8. When can I pre-order? :D
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
53 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)

Top Stories

First iPhone 12 Mini Hands-On Video Surfaces [Update: Video Pulled]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max aren't set to be available until November 13, but a Romanian YouTuber got his hands on the iPhone 12 mini and showed it off today, offering a size comparison between the iPhone 12 and the 12 mini along with going over some of the device's features. The iPhone 12 mini is identical to the iPhone 12 in design and functionality, but it has a...

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

After Mocking Apple, Samsung May Remove Power Adapter From Galaxy S21 Box

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:29 pm PDT by
Samsung's Galaxy S21, coming in 2021, may not include a power adapter or headphones in the box, according to reports from Korean media sites highlighted by SamMobile. Rumors earlier this year also said that Samsung was considering removing these accessories from future smartphone models, but that didn't stop Samsung from mocking Apple for selling the iPhone 12 models without a power adapter...

Report: Apple Silicon iMac Featuring Desktop Class 'A14T' Chip Coming First Half of 2021

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
The first iMac powered by Apple Silicon is set to arrive in the first half of next year and will feature a desktop class "A14T" chip, according to Chinese-language newspaper The China Times. Codenamed "Mt. Jade," Apple's first custom-made desktop processor will be twinned with its first self-developed GPU, codenamed "Lifuka," both of which are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, ...

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield Still 'Scratches at Level 6 With Deeper Grooves at Level 7' in Mohs Hardness Test

Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:10 am PDT by
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new Ceramic Shield front cover that is "tougher than any smartphone glass," according to Apple, but the displays on the devices still have similar scratch resistance as previous iPhones based on a new test. Zack Nelson today shared his much-anticipated iPhone 12 Pro durability test on his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, and based on the Mohs...

2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Tuesday October 27, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design and ...

MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter [Updated]

Monday October 26, 2020 3:38 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum. Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple...

Apple Files Mystery 'Personal Computer' With Placeholder 'B2002' Name in Bluetooth Product Database

Tuesday October 27, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
Last week, a listing appeared in the Bluetooth product database for an Apple product with a placeholder name "B2002" and a model number of "TBD." MacRumors was alerted to the listing by health and fitness tech website MyHealthyApple. The product is filed under the "personal computer" category, which Apple has used for previous Mac and iPad listings in the database, so it is hard to pinpoint...

Apple Releases First macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 Beta to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today seeded a new macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 beta to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta replacing the existing macOS Big Sur 11 beta 10 update that was released two weeks ago. The macOS Big Sur beta can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, subsequent betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...

iPhone 12 Models Might Support Reverse Charging of Future Apple Accessories According to FCC Filing

Tuesday October 27, 2020 6:25 pm PDT by
iPhone 12 models could have an inactive wireless charging feature for accessories, according to an FCC filing discovered by VentureBeat's Jeremy Horwitz. In the filing, Apple said that 2020 iPhones support a wireless charging function that will seemingly be enabled for at least one future Apple accessory:In addition to being able to be charged by a desktop WPT charger (puck), 2020 iPhones...