Apple shows continued interest in embedding Touch ID fingerprint sensors into touchscreen displays

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited July 2015
Future iPhones and iPads could move Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor from the device's home button to the display itself, allowing a more seamless and potentially dynamic way for a device to securely authenticate a user.




The possible future of Touch ID was revealed in a new patent application published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled "Fingerprint Sensor in an Electronic Device." Specifically, the filing describes how Apple might include a fingerprint sensor into the display stack on a device like an iPhone.

Apple's latest proposed invention related to a touchscreen Touch ID would allow the device to capture a single fingerprint at a pre-determined fixed location on the display. For example, an iPhone's lock screen or a third-party application could ask a user to place their finger in a specific spot on the screen in order to scan it and verify their identity.

Apple's system could also go even further, capturing a single fingerprint from any location on the display, or even scanning and identifying multiple fingerprints at once. By using the full space of an iPad, for example, Apple's advanced Touch ID system could enhance security by scanning all five of a user's fingerprints from one hand at the same time, or even a full palm print.

In the filing, Apple notes that fingerprint sensors embedded into displays in the past have degraded image quality on the screen by adding additional layers over the display. Such fingerprint scanning systems can also reduce the ability of the screen to sense traditional touch inputs.




Apple's proposed solution suggests that the fingerprint sensor for a display could be implemented as an integrated circuit connected to the bottom surface of a cover sheet, near the bottom surface, or connected to a top surface of the display. Apple also says that another method could place the fingerprint sensor as a full panel on the display.

In the filing, Apple notes that its full-panel fingerprint sensor could also serve as a touch sensing device, allowing the same technology to not only detect touch input, but also scan for fingerprints.

Apple's filing notes that its implementation could utilize "substantially transparent conductive material such as indium tin oxide" to address issues with display clarity on a full-screen fingerprint sensor.




Apple's interest in in-display fingerprint sensor technology is not new -- the company Apple acquired to create Touch ID in the iPhone and iPad, AuthenTec, has done extensive research on the subject. One such AuthenTec patent subsequently assigned to Apple was revealed in 2013, before the iPhone 5s introduced Touch ID to the world.

Both the 2013 patent and this week's newly unveiled filing are credited in part to Dale Setlak, co-founder of AuthenTec. Other inventors listed in the filing are Marduke Yosefpor, Jean-Marie Bussat, Benjamin B. Lyon, and Steven P. Hotelling.

Apple acquired AuthenTec in 2012, setting the stage for Touch ID, which in its current implementation is limited to the home button on the iPhone and iPad.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    I guess we can expect a news release from Samsung any moment claiming they will be doing the same thing.
  • Reply 2 of 41
    Finally the end of the home button is coming.
    This will give more screen real estate in a smaller form factor.
  • Reply 3 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    so how would you unlock your phone?

     

    by just touching the glass?  would that lead to more unintentional unlocking?


    If Apple did something like LG does, double tap the screen and the screen turns on and unlocks the phone, Apple adding the Touch ID for that under the screen would be nice. Then you don't have any unintentional unlocking. Or possibly using Taptic feedback (pressure on the screen) to act as the button. Or maybe they will have the button imbedded into the housing where you add pressure say above the lightning port and it acts as a home button(there have been patents for this, not for say a home button, but for any part of the housing to be a button and would allow developers to create buttons on the device for games, i think that should explain it without me knowing too much about it?).

  • Reply 4 of 41
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 202member
    I love the physical Home Button on the iPhone. I think it's great for orienting the phone in your hand without looking - e.g. when you're fishing it out of your pocket while driving or while in a dark room. With it, I can give Siri a command without ever looking at the phone. How would you do these things without a physical button? Phones are pretty featureless slabs these days - without that button, you'd have to search for the power or volume buttons to orient the phone blindly.

    Some are apt to suggest haptic feedback (e.g. a vibrate wen you're over the button) - but that seems like a waste of precious electricity.
  • Reply 5 of 41
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,523member
    I'm reading the comments here, and I'd like to remind you all that in the picture, Apple atill shows the home button. What that means is unclear. But if it entails clicking the button first, it would be a step backwards.

    I'm not so sure how practical a screen sensor would be. Apple themselves point out the problems. The current Touch sensor has a Rez of, I believe, 525 PPI. The sensor therefor would need to be rather large, possibly the entire screen, at that Rez. How much will that cost?
  • Reply 6 of 41
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,837member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jason98 View Post



    Finally the end of the home button is coming.

    This will give more screen real estate in a smaller form factor.

    I don't see Home button will go away but relocate into a different area which doesn't take the screen estate like on the side. Anyway, this will be something for Android phones to chase after...damn, they can't even catch up with the current Touch ID yet.

  • Reply 7 of 41
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,837member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by melgross View Post





    I'm not so sure how practical a screen sensor would be. Apple themselves point out the problems. The current Touch sensor has a Rez of, I believe, 525 PPI. The sensor therefor would need to be rather large, possibly the entire screen, at that Rez. How much will that cost?

    Not much 5 years from now.

  • Reply 8 of 41
    I see other potential benefits like better thumb rejection (on iPads), and being able differentiate stylus from finger contact. However, I have a habit of turning on and unlocking my iPhone by doing a simple "short press and rest" on the home button, which would not work if the move the sensor into the screen itself.
  • Reply 9 of 41
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,837member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by atokosch View Post

     

    If Apple did something like LG does, double tap the screen and the screen turns on and unlocks the phone, Apple adding the Touch ID for that under the screen would be nice. Then you don't have any unintentional unlocking. 


    Where on the screen? any place? Screen sensor is way cheaper than fingerprint sensor. If Apple want to do like LG do with their screen, the fingerprint sensor has to be entire screen. That's unpractical for a little benefit it gives.

    Just in case you don't know, current iPad has some kind of pressure sensor in one or some corners and when you apply the pressure, the screen will light up. I saw that demo at Apple store on the new Air I believe.

    To be practical, Apple may either have to keep the Home button but make it a lot smaller just for click or just under screen pressure sensor for Home button while the Touch ID is located right under it just like it does now. The difference is that Touch ID is no longer accessed through the Home button, but through the screen area surrounding Home button.

  • Reply 10 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post

     

    Where on the screen? any place? Screen sensor is way cheaper than fingerprint sensor. If Apple want to do like LG do with their screen, the fingerprint sensor has to be entire screen. That's unpractical for a little benefit it gives.

    Just in case you don't know, iPad current have some kind of pressure sensor in one or some corner when you apply the pressure, the screen will light up. I saw that demo at Apple store on the new Air I believe.


    What LG has is if you double tap anywhere on the screen (started with the G2 since the buttons are all on the back) the screen will turn on and you can set it to unlock the phone when you do that. Based off of this patent it looks as if you can put your finger anywhere on the screen and it will read it. If Apple were to imbedded this into the display they would just put it in one spot, it would make it too hard for the user. Also i am not sure what you are talking about with the new iPad and having a pressure sensor. The digitizer technology that the iPad uses does not support this. Are you sure that it wasn't a smart cover or they just happened to press the lock button or home button and you didn't notice? 

  • Reply 11 of 41
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    jason98 wrote: »
    Finally the end of the home button is coming.
    This will give more screen real estate in a smaller form factor.
    I've been saying it for years but no one listens.
    Grow the screen and get rid of that button.
  • Reply 12 of 41
    pazuzu wrote: »
    I've been saying it for years but no one listens.

    I wonder why.
  • Reply 13 of 41
    I think this will end up in trackpad on the new MacBook Air (ApplePay).
  • Reply 14 of 41
    mnbob1mnbob1 Posts: 258member
    If Appleis able to accomplish a multi-touch finger print sensor in the screen of a device that would create an iPhone or more significantly an iPad with a very secure capability.

    Think about an iPhone that requires a two or three finger simultaneous touch in order to unlock it. Better yet an iPad that would require up to five fingers or a palm press. The ability for app developers to develop apps that require a finger press in a specific area of the screen. What a great product to sell to the government! Ours or any!

    The drawings in the patent app that show the home button are meaningless. Think about it, would you submit a drawing without one? That would get the rumor mills running wild. Whether this patent application turns into a real product or not we won't know until it happens. Apple has lots of patents that are awarded that we have never seen in any products.
  • Reply 15 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jason98 View Post



    Finally the end of the home button is coming.

    This will give more screen real estate in a smaller form factor.



    and we get closer to fully sealed unit no dust, moisture, or water :-)

  • Reply 16 of 41
    mnbob1mnbob1 Posts: 258member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pazuzu View Post





    I've been saying it for years but no one listens.

    Grow the screen and get rid of that button.



    The guys on "Big Bang Theory" have the same problem of no one listening to their ideas for great inventions too. I can only hope your life is as entertaining as theirs.

     

    IMDb: The Focus Attenuation (2014)

    Amy and Bernadette accuse Penny of being a 'buzzkill' after she gets an email from work during their Vegas weekend. Meanwhile, the guys try to invent something cool, but only come up with new ways to procrastinate.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3811816/?ref_=ext_shr_eml_tt

  • Reply 17 of 41
    as I've said before, this is a good idea and then they can get rid of that home button. Its (for me) far too big and spoils the aesthetics of the iphone.
  • Reply 18 of 41
    sog35 wrote: »
    so how would you unlock your phone?

    by just touching the glass?  would that lead to more unintentional unlocking?
    Ability to unlock by tapping already exist, so it can be tap opens homescreen(like currently), hold down with finger unlocks.
  • Reply 19 of 41
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by atokosch View Post

     

    Also i am not sure what you are talking about with the new iPad and having a pressure sensor. The digitizer technology that the iPad uses does not support this. Are you sure that it wasn't a smart cover or they just happened to press the lock button or home button and you didn't notice? 


     

    In iOS 8, APIs have been introduced that allow developers to determine variable touch sizing, which can be used to crudely determine light touches vs hard presses.  However, it's not quite to the level of what is seen in ? Watch, which uses hardware to determine the difference. Though neither method can be used when the screen is off, perhaps that is what fallenjt is thinking? 

  • Reply 20 of 41
    Is this for the watch? Still unclear how they make that work with apple pay without touch id
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