Apple Exploring Fingerprint Sensing MicroLED Displays Sans Touch ID

Tuesday February 14, 2017 1:54 AM PST by Tim Hardwick

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a patent that describes a display capable of reading a user's fingerprint without a dedicated Touch ID sensor (via AppleInsider). The patent is interesting given current rumors swirling around the iPhone 8, which is expected to do away with the home button and integrate Touch ID directly into the display, but perhaps more noteworthy is the patent IP's re-assignment from LuxVue, a little-known company acquired by Apple in 2014 that developed low-power microLED-based displays.


Titled "Interactive display panel with IR diodes", the patent details a touch display that uses specifically microLED-sensing technology, rather than the traditional active matrix hardware utilized by most consumer smartphones and tablets.

The technology replaces larger capacitive sensors with smaller infrared light emitters and sensors, which sit alongside the RGB LED display substrate or on a microchip mounted to the substrate. These "interactive pixel" formations can then be calibrated to perform any number of functions, including ambient light sensing, proximity detection, and notably complex touch detection, which works by bouncing infrared light off a user's finger and back to the sensing diodes.

In the latter operation, specific rows – or a whole portion of the display – scan for a user's finger, which generates a proximate positioning bitmap to inform the system of the target's location and immediate surround. Bitmaps can include data like the intensity of incoming light, enabling a deeper analysis of the object and its surface curvature – dark and bright spots corresponding to the ridges and grooves of a fingerprint, for example.


The patent describes a couple of embodiments for the technology, including a microLED display with a higher density of interactive pixels in certain areas of the screen, such as where a virtual home button may be located. Alternatively, said pixels may ramify throughout the display in sufficient number as to make fingerprint identification on any portion of the screen a possibility.

Apple has explored other systems for enhancing display fingerprint recognition in the past. As with all patents though, the standard qualification applies: Apple may deem the LuxVue invention surplus to its upcoming product requirements. However, on its own, the system goes to show that reliable fingerprint identification does not necessarily rest on Touch ID alone. With rumors suggesting Apple may incorporate iris scanning into the iPhone 8, the security implications of dropping Touch ID's focused capacitive drive ring altogether may not be so great after all.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
41 months ago

Sounds like it could be used in :apple: Watch, too.


i agree. likely even before the iphone. this way they can test it in a smaller scale and a smaller display should be easier to produce too.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
41 months ago
If Apple does so something like this in the next iPhone, does that mean it's the end of screen protectors?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
41 months ago
Can't seem to put my finger on this... but I like it :D
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
41 months ago
I was hoping for a microLED rumor. I'm looking forward to seeing these in IOS devices and Macs but unfortunately Apple is likely putting them in the Apple Watch first.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
41 months ago

Has nothing to do with bravery, but market conditions, and they'll still sell by the million as history has taught us this.

There is no premium hardware/software/ecosystem that offers real competition to the iPhone, until that happens we're stuck with iterative updates. Something from MS is the only option really (Google aren't interested in quality over quantity and nobody else has deep enough pockets). After burning fingers in the mobile hardware arena before I cannot see them throwing the billions required to become a genuine contender at such a project. It's a shame, because most of the pieces are there app ecosystem aside.



Well, let's see what the last "iterative" update brought:


* New duo lens camera system
* New low light camera lens
* New HDR color screen
* New stereo speaker system
* Waterproofing
* New faster, more powerful chip
* New iOS
* Larger battery with Increased battery life
* Double base memory
* Double max memory
* New upgraded Front facing camera
* New Home button
* New lightning headphone plug
* New color choices

That's what I recall. Such improvement that it is selling at record numbers. If Apple could do that level of improvement every year, it would be amazing.

Looks like they will be continuing it with a bunch more iterative updates with the next iPhone, e.g., maybe new scanner, improved screen, better battery, more powerful chip, faster charging. Sounds familiar doesn't it. Indeed, that's all Apple has ever done with the iPhone, i.e., put out "iterative" updates. That's why they've sold over a billion of these devices.

I always ask the same serious question that goes unanswered: "What would a non-iterative update look like?" Circular versus rectangular? Produce holograms? Inquiring minds want to know.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
41 months ago
Sounds like it could be used in :apple: Watch, too.

Added security, beyond passcode lock & wrist detection.

It could also help make that device more independent from iPhone (i.e. this Touch ID variant could be set up independently, to allow payments for Apple Pay, without having to inherit details from an iOS device).
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Seemingly Unreleased Version of Logic Pro X With Live Loops Appears on Apple's Education Site [Updated]

Sunday March 29, 2020 7:23 am PDT by Hartley Charlton
Update: Apple has replaced the Logic Pro X image with an older version. Original story follows. A seemingly unreleased version of Logic Pro X has appeared on Apple's education site, as spotted by a Reddit user. The image from Apple's education products page shows a 16-inch MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X, but with a familiar interface that looks extremely similar to GarageBand's Live Loops ...

Zoom Updates iOS App to Stop Sending Data to Facebook

Friday March 27, 2020 5:35 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Zoom, a video conferencing app that many people are using at the current time to keep in touch with coworkers while working from home, was sending data to Facebook without disclosing the data sharing to customers. As of today, Zoom has updated its iOS app to remove the SDK that was providing data to Facebook through the Login with Facebook feature, according to Motherboard, the site that...

Apple Suppliers Worried About iPhone Demand, Production Ramp-Up for New iPhones Reportedly Postponed

Friday March 27, 2020 5:56 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Most of the factories in China that supply devices and components to Apple are back to churning out products, but Apple suppliers are said to be worried about how much demand there will be for the current iPhone models and the new iPhones expected in the fall. According to Reuters, a senior official at one of Apple's major supply companies said that orders for quarter ending in March are...

2020 iPad Pro Teardown Provides Closer Look at LiDAR Scanner and Confirms Incremental Update

Saturday March 28, 2020 9:56 am PDT by Hartley Charlton
iFixit today shared a video teardown of the new iPad Pro, which Apple unveiled earlier this month. iFixit found that most of the internals of the 2020 iPad Pro are the same as the 2018 model, confirming that the device is a relatively incremental update. The most notable new feature seen inside the new iPad Pro was the LiDAR scanner, which measures the distance to surrounding objects up...

Apple Watch Series 6 Could Feature Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor, Pulse Oximetry and Sleep Tracking Support

Friday March 27, 2020 11:28 am PDT by Juli Clover
The upcoming Apple Watch Series 6 set to be released this fall could include a Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the crown of the device, according to Israeli site The Verifier, which cites "senior sources" who have worked with its staff for a "number of years" as the source of the rumor. It's not clear how the alleged Touch ID fingerprint sensor would be implemented, as the Digital...

Bloomberg: Apple's 5G iPhone Still on Schedule for Fall Launch, But Future Products Could Be Delayed

Monday March 30, 2020 2:40 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple's 5G iPhone is still on track to launch within the company's typical annual fall release schedule, according to a new Bloomberg report on filed on Monday. Signs are that Apple's Chinese-centric manufacturing -- of which Hon Hai is the linchpin -- is slowly getting back on track. The next iPhones with 5G wireless capabilities remain on schedule to launch in the fall, partly because mass...

Kuo: Apple to Launch Several Macs With Arm-Based Processors in 2021, USB4 Support Coming to Macs in 2022

Thursday March 26, 2020 8:19 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple plans to launch several Mac notebooks and desktop computers with its own custom designed Arm-based processors in 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Kuo believes that Arm-based processors will significantly enhance the competitive advantage of the Mac lineup, allow Apple to refresh its Mac models without relying on Intel's processor roadmap,...

Top Stories: Hands-On With 2020 iPad Pro and MacBook Air, iOS and iPadOS 13.4 Released, iPhone 12 Delay?

Saturday March 28, 2020 6:00 am PDT by MacRumors Staff
After last week's flurry of product launches, Apple's new iPad Pro and MacBook Air have started to make their way into consumers' hands, and we've gone hands-on with both of them this week. Apple this week also released iOS and iPadOS 13.4 (as well as macOS, watchOS, and tvOS updates) with a number of new features and improvements. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...

Deals: Huge Refurbished iPhone Sale Discounts iPhone 7, 8, X, XR, and XS (From $120)

Friday March 27, 2020 5:47 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Woot is back today with a big sale on refurbished iPhones, including markdowns on the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Woot. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. As with every Woot purchase, those...

Apple Releases ProRes RAW Beta for Windows

Monday March 30, 2020 9:33 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released ProRes RAW for Windows in a beta capacity (via Mark Gurman), with the software designed to allow ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ video files to be watched in compatible applications on Windows machines. According to Apple, the software will let the files be played within several Adobe apps: Adobe After Effects (Beta) Adobe Media Encocder (Beta) Adobe Premiere...