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Apple's 'iPhone 5S' to boast fingerprint sensor embedded in convex sapphire home button

post #1 of 198
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When Apple launches its next-generation iPhone, the handset will likely carry a fingerprint sensor embedded into a slightly convex home button made out of sapphire, a major change to current designs.

AuthenTec
Cross-section of AuthenTec's unique fingerprint sensor. | Source: AuthenTec


By using a convex home button instead of the familiar concave design, Apple will be able to make room for the much rumored fingerprint sensor without losing precious internal space, according to well-informed KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a research note obtained by AppleInsider, Kuo says Apple is using sapphire because of its resilience to scratches, which will thus protect the fingerprint sensor embedded within.

AuthenTec, the biometric security firm Apple purchased in 2012, uses leading-edge capacitive and RF technologies in its biometric chips, a method that images fingerprints differently than existing optics-based systems. Kuo believes the tech is superior as the sensor is not subject to misreadings due to the build up of detritus or dust.

Further, the analyst sees Apple's current one-button iPhone design as being an optimal fit for a fingerprint reader. With a single home button, consumers are less likely to be confused as to where to place their finger for scanning.

While a convex home button design grants added space for a sensor, the part will become more susceptible to scratches than the concave component Apple has used since the first iPhone debuted in 2007. To protect the sensitive sensor, sapphire glass, a material with a hardness rating second only to diamond, will be used instead of the current plastic composite.

The convex design lends itself nicely to a patent Apple filed for in June describing a method of encapsulating a fingerprint sensor package within a confined space.

Kuo predicts the sensor's inclusion will keep the iPhone well ahead of competing Android and Windows Phone handsets, possible presaging Apple's entry into secure mobile payments. The system could also yield a safer way to access Apple's cloud computing services like iCloud and iTunes.

Earlier on Saturday, a report from AllThingsD cited inside sources as saying the Cupertino, Calif., company will unveil the next-generation iPhone at a Sept. 10 media event.
post #2 of 198

Anything's possible, I guess, but this rumor wouldn't seem to work well with current Authentec sensors.

 

A covering for capacitive or RF is usally only a few microns thick.   Can sapphire slices be made that thin?  Wouldn't carving out a convex version be extremely wasteful, too?

 

Not to mention that convex sounds like a terrible idea in one's pocket.  A button sticking out is going to get clicked all the time.  That was the whole idea behind the current concave design... to not easily be accidentally clicked.

 

Also, the home button isn't big enough for a whole-finger scanner, so you'd need to swipe, and a raised button sounds like it would easily get clicked.

 

I just don't see this whole idea of a scanner in the Home button anyway.  Next to it would make more sense.  Unless the whole idea is that waking up the phone by punching the Home button, fully authenticates the user for the entire time that the phone remains awake.

post #3 of 198
I don't think convex would work. Maybe a flat home button would.

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post #4 of 198
Cue the finger-amputating thieves posts...

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post #5 of 198
kdarling, "That was the whole idea behind the current concave design... to not easily be accidentally clicked."

I have the feeling that if you accidently click the button that does not detect a fingerprint, it will do nothing.
post #6 of 198
In the light of the whole NSA Prism saga, does anyone now have concerns about a device that captures literally everything we say and everywhere we go and now with a fingerprint sensor to personally identify you?

Just saying...
post #7 of 198
A convex home button will create problems with it being inadvertently hit. Although the fingerprint sensor is a great option Apple would be better off finding a way to keep it concave or wait til they can.
post #8 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

Also, the home button isn't big enough for a whole-finger scanner, so you'd need to swipe, and a raised button sounds like it would easily get clicked.

Agree!  A convex button would not be practical as it would be easily clicked. Imagine your phone inside anything getting the home button clicked every few seconds.  That'd kill battery life, shorten the life of the home button significantly, and make your phone easily butt-dialed when in a pocket.

post #9 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

Unless the whole idea is that waking up the phone by punching the Home button, fully authenticates the user for the entire time that the phone remains awake.

Um, duh?

post #10 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayfizzle View Post

A convex home button will create problems with it being inadvertently hit. Although the fingerprint sensor is a great option Apple would be better off finding a way to keep it concave or wait til they can.

Given that they already have a 'face' detector in the unit (to turn off the screen/touchscreen when near your face when talking on the phone), it seems natural that Apple could use that sensor to disable the home button.  If the phone is in your pocket, it will detect it like a face and ignore the home button.  

 

I don't know if the 'face' detector sensor is low-enough power to make that practical, ... 

post #11 of 198
My browser doesn't show the question mark in the article headline.

It will be interesting to see how Kuo's good track record plays out on a seemingly unlikely claim. I feel safe in saying Apple would VERY much want to avoid changing to a convex button because concave is clearly better in a number of ways. BUT... if other rumors are true, that the fingerprint sensor yields have led to concerns of shortages, that's the kind of thing that would force any company's hand: maybe a thicker/different sensor can be delivered in greater numbers. Apple wouldn't like it (and they'd go back to concave later, I'm sure) but they might do it if they HAD to.

For now, I'm skeptical.
Edited by nagromme - 8/10/13 at 7:28pm
post #12 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by s.metcalf View Post

In the light of the whole NSA Prism saga, does anyone now have concerns about a device that captures literally everything we say and everywhere we go and now with a fingerprint sensor to personally identify you?

Just saying...

Is that not the whole idea? You would be more opposed to the idea if you hadn't already accepted massive violations of privacy and security.

post #13 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwoloszynski View Post

Given that they already have a 'face' detector in the unit (to turn off the screen/touchscreen when near your face when talking on the phone), it seems natural that Apple could use that sensor to disable the home button.  If the phone is in your pocket, it will detect it like a face and ignore the home button.  

 

I don't know if the 'face' detector sensor is low-enough power to make that practical, ... 

In fact, there was a comment that Apple plans to use a dedicated new touch sensor on the home button to avoid the issue with the button wearing out.  If they merged these two plans together, seems like they have a great answer.  A new button design that does not fail and one that provides substantially better security for the device.

post #14 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by netrox View Post

kdarling, "That was the whole idea behind the current concave design... to not easily be accidentally clicked."

I have the feeling that if you accidently click the button that does not detect a fingerprint, it will do nothing.

Not so optimal for those who choose not to use Fingerprint Authentication.

post #15 of 198

Sept 10 will be interesting. Given the recent government spying scandal, I think there's going to be a serious discussion of the security and privacy implications of having every iPhone user's fingerprints right there available for the hacking.

 

 

Edit: s.metcalf beat me to it.

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post #16 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

Not so optimal for those who choose not to use Fingerprint Authentication.

Should work just as before if you decide to opt out of the additional security of using the fingerprint authentication.  Why would you opt out anyway?  

post #17 of 198

The sensor from Authentech does not provide a traditional fingerprint read; it provides a unique biometric that the system can use to confirm is yours.  In fact, it likely only stores a hash of the measurement to compare with.  I doubt the fingerprint details ever get out of the sensor for a hacker to even read.

 

Besides, anyone who wants  your fingerprint can get it off just about anything you touch.  Red Solo cups (and some beer) and I have your fingerprint.  

post #18 of 198
If Kuo gets this right- I'm a full believer in him. If not, I stand by my opinion of him being a blow-hard

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post #19 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwoloszynski View Post

Besides, anyone who wants  your fingerprint can get it off just about anything you touch.  Red Solo cups (and some beer) and I have your fingerprint.  

Uhh... Then what? You press the solo cup on my iPhone?

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post #20 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by s.metcalf View Post

In the light of the whole NSA Prism saga, does anyone now have concerns about a device that captures literally everything we say and everywhere we go and now with a fingerprint sensor to personally identify you?

Just saying...

 

First, I think the courts already accept the sound of your voice and other evidence that the phone belongs to you. It's not like phone records are now useless because they can't demonstrate who's on the line. As for unscrupulous government employees doing unethical things (stalking, revenge, illegal business spying) they don't even care about that level of "proof"--if it's your phone, they'll just assume they're tracking you.

 

Second, if fingerprint data is being transmitted to Apple, then yes (at the moment) Apple may well be forced to share that data with the government, no warranty necessarily required. But there's no obvious reason the fingerprint needs to be transmitted at all (your 4-digit lock code isn't, for instance) and Apple is very good about stating what data they receive. If Apple were to collect fingerprint data for no reason and without telling people, it would be only a matter of time before someone intercepted that data and told the world how to do so: in short, Apple would be caught in the act.

 

Third, you might worry that the government requires things like fingerprint transmission, always-on microphones/camera, always-on GPS, or whatever, and bars companies from telling anyone about it, even while they publicly call companies on the carpet for collecting too much data. (That sounds way too extreme to be true... for now! But it's an interesting idea.) Maybe you even think they have ways not to get caught. But there are two problems with that: A) any conspiracy that involves too many people fails. For a secret to be kept, it must be kept small--you can't have hardware and software designers and all the big tech companies in on the deal, and expect none of them to blow the whistle. That's just too many people at too many different levels, subcontractors, etc. And B) if you're worried about that, you may as well worry about trackers in things that don't even SAY they have a GPS chip. Like your belt buckle, watch, keyfob, light bulbs, and shoes.

post #21 of 198
Could it be that the whole problem here is the (non-english) source is mixing up the difference between convex and concave? It's a difference that vexes many Americans, it's possible that it got lost in the translation here.

It's interesting that there is no source link either. Is this speculation or fact?

Also, If it's concave or flat, then there is no need for sapphire. Maybe he just heard they were using sapphire and the rest is his speculation based on that.
post #22 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwoloszynski View Post

In fact, there was a comment that Apple plans to use a dedicated new touch sensor on the home button to avoid the issue with the button wearing out.  If they merged these two plans together, seems like they have a great answer.  A new button design that does not fail and one that provides substantially better security for the device.

 

No, they will still need the mechanical home button.  Replacing it with a capacitive button is a fail for various reasons that have been gone over many times before.  

post #23 of 198

By the way, I don't know that storing a complete fingerprint image will even be needed--maybe so, maybe not. It's plausible to me that a very lossy set of data could be used to create digital... er, fingerprint... of the image for matching. Like the way computers sometimes hear voices: they don't need a full recording, just some limited volume/pitch data etc.

 

So if people worry that the police could seize their phone and ask Apple to extract the fingerprint image for matching against crime scenes, that may not actually be practical.

 

Plus, unless you wear special gloves, there are much easier to get your fingerprints from your phone, and they've worked for decades :)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Could it be that the whole problem here is the (non-english) source is mixing up the difference between convex and concave? It's a difference that vexes many Americans, it's possible that it got lost in the translation here.

 

If Ming-Chi Kuo is vexed by that, maybe he'll cave—admit he was wrong and revise the prediction.

post #24 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

Anything's possible, I guess, but this rumor wouldn't seem to work well with current Authentec sensors.

 

A covering for capacitive or RF is usally only a few microns thick.   Can sapphire slices be made that thin?  Wouldn't carving out a convex version be extremely wasteful, too?

 

Not to mention that convex sounds like a terrible idea in one's pocket.  A button sticking out is going to get clicked all the time.  That was the whole idea behind the current concave design... to not easily be accidentally clicked.

 

Also, the home button isn't big enough for a whole-finger scanner, so you'd need to swipe, and a raised button sounds like it would easily get clicked.

 

I just don't see this whole idea of a scanner in the Home button anyway.  Next to it would make more sense.  Unless the whole idea is that waking up the phone by punching the Home button, fully authenticates the user for the entire time that the phone remains awake.

 

Based on Apple's history, I'm sure they're more than capable of identifying and addressing these issues before implementation. And, worse case scenario, if they do screw it up, we know they generally correct them. That's one of the reasons why many people choose Apple's products.

 

But try not to get too far ahead of yourself here. Why don't we wait to see if problems materialise before worrying about them.

 

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post #25 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

Anything's possible, I guess, but this rumor wouldn't seem to work well with current Authentec sensors.

 

A covering for capacitive or RF is usally only a few microns thick.   Can sapphire slices be made that thin?  Wouldn't carving out a convex version be extremely wasteful, too?

 

Not to mention that convex sounds like a terrible idea in one's pocket.  A button sticking out is going to get clicked all the time.  That was the whole idea behind the current concave design... to not easily be accidentally clicked.

 

Also, the home button isn't big enough for a whole-finger scanner, so you'd need to swipe, and a raised button sounds like it would easily get clicked.

 

Hello!!?? They ain't gonna be scanning no fingers, especially a whole finger!! The devices reads the biometrics in a wholly different way than looking at the ridges ON the finger's surface.

 

I suspect Apple will be growing the sapphire much the same way rubies are grown, so they could grow an ultra - thin layer, rather then slicing anything up. The hardness makes that problematical. I like the feel of the concave button, but it may not be necessary (or even movable) if the button is looking for a specific biometric finger reading instead of physical travel. Be prepared to be surprised... I know I am.

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post #26 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

Anything's possible, I guess, but this rumor wouldn't seem to work well with current Authentec sensors.

A covering for capacitive or RF is usally only a few microns thick.   Can sapphire slices be made that thin?  Wouldn't carving out a convex version be extremely wasteful, too?

Not a problem at all. For example:
http://www.ultra-thin.com/sapphire.htm

You could also apply the sapphire as a coating.
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post #27 of 198
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Kuo predicts the sensor's inclusion will keep the iPhone well ahead of competing Android and Windows Phone handsets, possible presaging Apple's entry into secure mobile payments.

 

Bingo.  One step at a time toward a true e-wallet.  Or would that be "iWallet"?

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post #28 of 198
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Based on Apple's history, I'm sure they're more than capable of identifying and addressing these issues before implementation. And, worse case scenario, if they do screw it up, we know they generally correct them. That's one of the reasons why many people choose Apple's products.

 

It's also the major reason why competitors rampantly copy Apple's products.

Because they do the hard design, development, testing, re-design, re-development, re-testing, ad nauseam.

Much easier, faster, and cheaper to just copy Apple instead of doing all that work.

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post #29 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

Because they do the hard design, development, testing, re-design, re-development, re-testing, ad nauseam.

 

Does AuthenTec get none of the credit for all their work before being purchased?

post #30 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

Is that not the whole idea? You would be more opposed to the idea if you hadn't already accepted massive violations of privacy and security.
Guess he doesn't work out at 24 hour fitness
post #31 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

Anything's possible, I guess, but this rumor wouldn't seem to work well with current Authentec sensors.

A covering for capacitive or RF is usally only a few microns thick.   Can sapphire slices be made that thin?  Wouldn't carving out a convex version be extremely wasteful, too?


Not to mention that convex sounds like a terrible idea in one's pocket.  A button sticking out is going to get clicked all the time.  That was the whole idea behind the current concave design... to not easily be accidentally clicked.

Also, the home button isn't big enough for a whole-finger scanner, so you'd need to swipe, and a raised button sounds like it would easily get clicked.

I just don't see this whole idea of a scanner in the Home button anyway.  Next to it would make more sense.  Unless the whole idea is that waking up the phone by punching the Home button, fully authenticates the user for the entire time that the phone remains awake.
KDarling, noted anti-Apple troll, at it again.....
post #32 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post

Does AuthenTec get none of the credit for all their work before being purchased?

They get financially rewarded unless they negotiate otherwise when purchased.

Try not to worry your pretty head too much about it.

Hey, here's a sock puppet to distract you and take away all your worries about Apple mistreating companies!

Isn't HE cool!

Would you like for him to sing a song about how these deals generally benefit everybody?

post #33 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post


They get financially rewarded unless they negotiate otherwise when purchased.

Try not to worry your pretty head too much about it.

Hey, here's a sock puppet to distract you and take away all your worries about Apple mistreating companies!

Isn't HE cool!

Would you like for him to sing a song about how these deals generally benefit everybody?

 

You misunderstood, I'm not implying that Apple is mistreating AuthenTec in any way, shape or form.

post #34 of 198
Samsung will probably offer a smartphone with similar technology shortly after the new iPhone is introduced and by early next year, all Android smartphones will have fingerprint sensors. Anything Apple does that becomes successful will be quickly copied by rivals and there's nothing Apple can do about it. I doubt any patent is airtight and as far as I can tell from past experience, Samsung can reverse engineer any component with the greatest of ease. That's one huge advantage Samsung has over Apple. They never have any qualms about copying rival's technology and in fact they're rather proud of that ability. Why reinvent the wheel if someone else already has one?
post #35 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

Sept 10 will be interesting. Given the recent government spying scandal, I think there's going to be a serious discussion of the security and privacy implications of having every iPhone user's fingerprints right there available for the hacking.


Edit: s.metcalf beat me to it.

I agree, people are nervous and trust in government is probably at an all time low or if not close to it. Fingerprint sensing is all of a sudden a bad look for Apple. The timing couldn't be worse.
post #36 of 198
Originally Posted by s.metcalf View Post
I agree, people are nervous and trust in government is probably at an all time low or if not close to it. Fingerprint sensing is all of a sudden a bad look for Apple. The timing couldn't be worse.

 

It'll be off by default and won't even have a prompt in setup of a new device, watch. That's the best way to go about it, even in a non-hostile climate. It would just be an option in settings.

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post #37 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

Anything's possible, I guess, but this rumor wouldn't seem to work well with current Authentec sensors.

 

 

Of course, because I'm sure you have access to all of Authentec's technology and what they're working on. /S

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post #38 of 198

I don't know why people keep thinking your fingerprint will be stored somewhere as a simple image or that someone could copy it. Do you think passwords are stored as plain text? There will be a mathematical formula that converts your fingerprint into some type of data that can't be converted back to a fingerprint.

 

Others have mentioned that fingerprints are not 100% unique. Irrelevant. This is not going to be something that's used to identify you among all the hundreds of millions of other iOS users. It's simply a method to verify if the proper owner of the iPhone is actually trying to use it. It would also be very secure for mobile payments as the odds of your iPhone getting into the hands of someone with a close-enough fingerprint to fool it are astronomical.

 

The button also doesn't have to be big enough to read your entire finger/thumb. Why would it? When the iPhone is set up you could perform several "passes" so your entire print is analyzed. When unlocking your iPhone it only needs to see a portion of your finger/thumb print to see it if matches up with your entire finger/thumb. This also makes the device more user-friendly as you don't have to be exact with how you place your finger/thumb (unlike face unlock which can be picky at times). This will make it fast to use, which is something I'm sure Apple will be picky about.

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post #39 of 198

Not if the fingerprint is needed to activate.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayfizzle View Post

A convex home button will create problems with it being inadvertently hit. Although the fingerprint sensor is a great option Apple would be better off finding a way to keep it concave or wait til they can.
post #40 of 198

Sapphire

How much is the sapphire going to be worth?

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