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New iPhone Patent Suggests Touch ID May Live on in a Different Form

One of the more contentious iPhone 8 rumors we've seen recently is the claim that with the removal of the Home button, Apple will ditch its Touch ID fingerprint recognition technology and replace it with another form of bio-recognition hardware.

While several possible alternatives have been put forward – such as iris scanning, facial recognition, and even a combination of technologies – each has its pros and cons, while it's still far from clear how Apple would implement them in a purportedly bezel-free OLED handset.

On the other hand, it's possible that Apple plans to retain a fingerprint identification system in the context of a wider technology which doesn't rely on Touch ID as it is currently understood. A new Apple patent application published on Thursday and discovered by AppleInsider offers a case in point.


The patent is called "Acoustic imaging system architecture" and describes a method by which a conventional capacitive sensor like Touch ID is replaced by an array of acoustic transducers laid out beneath an iPhone display or in its protective housing.

Some embodiments describe the transducers as capable of generating acoustic waves, or pulses, which propagate through different substrates, including an iPhone's coverglass. A sensing mode then monitors reflections, attenuations, and diffractions in the sound waves caused by a foreign body – such as a finger – coming into contact with the responsive substrate.

According to the filing, the ridges in a fingerprint create an identifiable acoustic impedance mismatch. The resulting scan data is transmitted as electric signals which subsequently inform an onboard image resolver to enable it to create a two-dimensional map of the surface. Similar to existing biometric security technology, the digital map is then compared against a database to authenticate the user.

Crucially, the system is capable of being configured to scan for particular body parts like a user's ear or a skin pattern, in order to determine how the device is being held. Depending on the implementation, the acoustic imaging system might also replace an iPhone's proximity sensors.

Additionally, the design of the acoustic system allows it to be installed almost anywhere in a device chassis, including directly under the display, around the screen's perimeter or bezel, around buttons and in other, non-input areas like a rear chassis.

It's not known if the system just described will find its way into an upcoming iPhone, but the patent suggests Apple may be working on sensor technology capable of various feats, with fingerprint identification being just one of them.

Alternatively, one could envision a scenario in which Apple considers its implementation of fingerprint recognition different enough to warrant a subtle re-definition of Touch ID – as when "Force Touch" on the MacBook became "3D Touch" on the iPhone, for instance. Indeed, at this early stage in the iPhone 8 rumor mill, uncertainty surrounding the future of Touch ID could be down to misconstrued information or confusion over a semantic quibble.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tags: patent, Touch ID


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

5 weeks ago

So there was no need to remove from the 7 series then


Just drop it, Bough! Headphone jack will be a non-issue in a few years' time when everybody else drops it too. Apple lead and the rest follow, as per.
Rating: 14 Votes
5 weeks ago
wow! thats cool
Rating: 12 Votes
5 weeks ago

They removed the jack in order to make space for new things like this.

So there was no need to remove from the 7 series then
Rating: 8 Votes
5 weeks ago

If Apple had to remove the headphone jack from the 7 series iPhone because of space issues how pray-tell are they going to fit all this cool new tech into the same form factor? Or was the space issue just BS?


They removed the jack in order to make space for new things like this.
Rating: 8 Votes
5 weeks ago
I don't see Touch ID going anywhere. It will change position form or technology but it will be there. Any other kind of user recognition tech will be a complementary ADD-ON, not a replacement
Rating: 7 Votes
5 weeks ago

So there was no need to remove from the 7 series then


Oh there were reasons.

The 7 was a small update from the 6S, so they tested going jackless on this model rather than take the gamble on the model with the biggest overhaul to date

Better waterproofing

Internal space freed up was used for a larger taptic engine
Rating: 5 Votes
5 weeks ago

('//www.macrumors.com/2017/02/23/new-iphone-patent-touch-id-may-live-on/')


One of the more contentious iPhone 8 rumors we've seen recently is the claim that with the removal of the home button, Apple will ditch its Touch ID fingerprint recognition technology and replace it with another form of bio-recognition hardware.

While several possible alternatives have been put forward - such as iris scanning ('//www.macrumors.com/2017/02/10/iphone-8-iris-scanner-digitimes-rumor/'), facial recognition ('//www.macrumors.com/2017/02/16/iphone-3d-laser-scanner-facial-recognition/'), and even a combination of technologies ('//www.macrumors.com/2017/01/21/apple-touch-id-facial-recognition-iphone-8/') - each has its pros and cons, while it's still far from clear how Apple would implement them in a purportedly bezel-free OLED handset.

On the other hand, it's possible that Apple plans to retain a fingerprint identification system in the context of a wider technology which doesn't rely on Touch ID as it is currently understood. A new Apple patent application published on Thursday and discovered by AppleInsider ('http://appleinsider.com/articles/17/02/23/apples-acoustic-imaging-technology-might-replace-touch-id-in-future-iphones') offers a case in point.



The patent is called "Acoustic imaging system architecture ('http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=2232&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&s1=(1%2F1.CCLS.+AND+20170223.PD.)&p=45&OS=ccl/1/1+and+pd/2/23/2017&RS=(CCL/1/1+AND+PD/20170223)')" and describes a method by which a conventional capacitive sensor like Touch ID is replaced by an array of acoustic transducers laid out beneath an iPhone display or in its protective housing.

Some embodiments describe the transducers as capable of generating acoustic waves, or pulses, which propagate through different substrates, including an iPhone's coverglass. A sensing mode then monitors reflections, attenuations, and diffractions in the sound waves caused by a foreign body - such as a finger - coming into contact with the responsive substrate.

According to the filing, the ridges in a fingerprint create an identifiable acoustic impedance mismatch. The resulting scan data is transmitted as electric signals which subsequently inform an onboard image resolver to enable it to create a two-dimensional map of the surface. Similar to existing biometric security technology, the digital map is then compared against a database to authenticate the user.

Crucially, the system is capable of being configured to scan for particular body parts like a user's ear or a skin pattern, in order to determine how the device is being held. Depending on the implementation, the acoustic imaging system might also replace an iPhone's proximity sensors.

Additionally, the design of the acoustic system allows it to be installed almost anywhere in a device chassis, including directly under the display, around the screen's perimeter or bezel, around buttons and in other, non-input areas like a rear chassis.

It's not known if the system just described will find its way into an upcoming iPhone, but the patent suggests Apple may be working on sensor technology capable of various feats, with fingerprint identification being just one of them.

Alternatively, one could envision a scenario in which Apple considers this implementation different enough to warrant a subtle re-definition of Touch ID - as when "Force Touch" on the MacBook became "3D Touch" on the iPhone, for instance. At this early stage in the iPhone 8 rumor mill, it's still possible that the uncertainty surrounding the future of Touch ID may come down to a semantic quibble.

Article Link: New iPhone Patent Suggests Touch ID May Live on in a Different Form ('//www.macrumors.com/2017/02/23/new-iphone-patent-touch-id-may-live-on/')

If Apple had to remove the headphone jack from the 7 series iPhone because of space issues how pray-tell are they going to fit all this cool new tech into the same form factor? Or was the space issue just BS?
Rating: 5 Votes
5 weeks ago

Could you imagine explaining these rumors to someone 10 years ago?

"Yeah man, phones have ultrasound finger print scanners now. Everyone has them."

They would probably think you're crazy.


"Did you know that in 10 years you'll have a device that'll fit in your pocket that is 3x more powerful than the current (2007) Mac Pro?

You know those new high definition blu rays? Yeah this device will be able to record video at a resolution 4x greater than that. It also has an app store where you can get virtually anything, including apps that can digitally alter your face in real time. Also if you strap it to your face it can act as an on-the-go virtual reality device too.

Did I mention it can also stream high definition video over the air? And it can also mimic a credit card so you can also pay for things with it in a store?

One last thing - we all kinda got bored unlocking these things with a 4 digit passcode. Urgh. Now it has a biometric fingerprint sensor so we don't have to do that any more.."


Man in 2007 - "You are talking utter ****!"
Rating: 3 Votes
5 weeks ago

One of the more contentious iPhone 8 rumors we've seen recently is the claim that with the removal of the home button, Apple will ditch its Touch ID fingerprint recognition technology and replace it with another form of bio-recognition hardware.


I thought it was just one random guy that didn't even have a solid track record that just assumed that TouchID will be replaced by the face recognition. Apple has had patents for fingerprint sensors behind the screen before this so I don't understand why anyone would think that it would be gone if Apple removed the Home button.
Rating: 3 Votes
5 weeks ago
Make the Apple logo an active device.
Rating: 3 Votes

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