Apple patents sub-display fingerprint recognition technology based on acoustic imaging

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2017
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a patent for acoustic fingerprint imaging technology accurate enough to replace existing Touch ID optical readers, bolstering rumors that the iPhone home button is not long for this world.




As detailed in Apple's U.S. Patent No. 9,747,488 for an "Active sensing element for acoustic imaging systems," the IP describes a method of gathering biometric data, specifically a fingerprint, through ultrasonic transmission and detection.

Collected fingerprint images, once processed, can be applied to user authentication in much the same way as Touch ID. Unlike Apple's current fingerprint reading hardware, however, acoustic imaging technology does not require optical access to an evaluation target, meaning ultrasonic transducers can be placed beneath operating components like a display.

In practice, the acoustic imaging system described incorporates an array of piezoelectric transducers arranged in a pattern near the bottom surface of a given substrate. Configured to collect image data of an object engaging a top surface of the substrate, like a finger or stylus, these components send out an acoustic pulse toward the top substrate surface.

A portion of the acoustic pulse is reflected off the top substrate back toward the transducer array, where the returning acoustic waves can be parsed to determine the image of a target. More specifically, the pulse is reflected back as a function of whatever object is touching the top substrate.

For example, a finger introduces an acoustic impedance mismatch, otherwise known as an acoustic boundary, between itself and the top surface of a substrate. A fingerprint's ridges and valleys present different acoustic boundaries, soft tissue-substrate and air gap-substrate, respectively, and therefore produce distinct acoustic output to be detected by the sensing elements.

Once collected at the piezoelectric transducer array, reflected acoustic pulses are turned into electrical signals and analyzed. In some embodiments, electrical signals correspond to a single pixel of a larger sub-image. Applied to the example above, pixels corresponding to fingerprint ridges may be lighter than those assigned to valleys.




Apple in its invention notes traditional acoustic imaging systems suffer from a number of limitations. For example, driving piezoelectric elements might have substantially higher electrical requirements compared to sensing with those components. Apple estimates piezoelectric elements are driven by high voltage circuits ranging from 0 to 100 volts, while sensing is performed by low voltage circuits running at 0 to 3.3 volts.

Additionally, due to the commonly high capacitance materials used in manufacturing piezoelectric parts, driving these elements at high voltages can result in damaging current spikes.

To solve these and other potentially fatal architectural flaws, Apple proposes a system of integrated transducer controllers capable of independently operating both drive and sense modes. In some cases, sense/drive chips dedicate one or more sense and drive circuits to an individual transducer. This configuration allows the system granular control over a unit's drive signal, voltage bias and ground reference, effectively turning the transducer package into an "active sensor."

The remainder of today's patent discusses specifics like modes of operation, voltage tolerances, alternative embodiments and other details.

Whether Apple intends to implement the acoustic imaging technology into a shipping product is unclear, though rumors earlier this year suggested the company was looking to debut a sub-screen fingerprint reader in the forthcoming "iPhone 8" handset. An embedded solution would replace the years-old home button, affording space for a full-face OLED display. More recently, however, insiders claim the company has scrapped plans to integrate Touch ID into the next-generation smartphone altogether.

Instead of -- or alongside -- fingerprint authentication, Apple is widely expected to unveil advanced facial recognition technology powered by new depth-sensing camera hardware. Lines of code unearthed in recently leaked HomePod firmware suggest the so-called "FaceDetect" feature will inform a range of functions, from user authentication to payments.

Apple's acoustic imaging patent was first filed for in August 2015 and credits Mohammad Yeke Yazdandoost, Giovanni Gozzini and Jean-Marie Bussat as its inventors.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    Is it way better than Qualcomm's Ultrasonic Biometric Fingerprint Scanner?
    edited August 2017
  • Reply 2 of 25
    I wonder if its wet-finger authentication is any better than Touch ID's?
    edited August 2017 longpathargonautlolliver
  • Reply 3 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,217member
    Avieshek said:
    Is it way better than Qualcomm's Ultrasonic Biometric Fingerprint Scanner?
    Well, since we haven't really seen either yet, who knows?
    StrangeDaysjbdragonrepressthislolliver
  • Reply 4 of 25
    Could this be it? Is this the Touch ID solution for the new phone? Was this purposely held or granted later so it would be closer to an actual reveal? I love Touch ID but the physical button needs to go. It would be great if they developed a new way of doing it that put them years ahead of the competition. 

    Here's to hoping. 
    SoundJudgmentwatto_cobraredgeminipalongpathdavenargonautrepressthislolliver
  • Reply 5 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,422member
    pujones1 said:
    Could this be it? Is this the Touch ID solution for the new phone? Was this purposely held or granted later so it would be closer to an actual reveal? I love Touch ID but the physical button needs to go. It would be great if they developed a new way of doing it that put them years ahead of the competition. 

    Here's to hoping. 
    I don’t know about that, but as for Touch ID in new iPhones there’s one wait to find out ;-)
  • Reply 6 of 25
    As Rutger said in Bladerunner: "Questions."

    I will add one more: what about fake finger print identification? Is t it that touchID can discrimination beste between "live" and "dead" fingers?
    pujones1argonaut
  • Reply 7 of 25
    As Rutger said in Bladerunner: "Questions."

    I will add one more: what about fake finger print identification? Is t it that touchID can discrimination beste between "live" and "dead" fingers?
    Define (definitively) what is a "dead" finger and what is a "live" one. 
  • Reply 8 of 25
    As Rutger said in Bladerunner: "Questions."

    I will add one more: what about fake finger print identification? Is t it that touchID can discrimination beste between "live" and "dead" fingers?
    Define (definitively) what is a "dead" finger and what is a "live" one. 
    And be definite about it.
  • Reply 9 of 25
    davendaven Posts: 466member
    ireland said:
    pujones1 said:
    Could this be it? Is this the Touch ID solution for the new phone? Was this purposely held or granted later so it would be closer to an actual reveal? I love Touch ID but the physical button needs to go. It would be great if they developed a new way of doing it that put them years ahead of the competition. 

    Here's to hoping. 
    I don’t know about that, but as for Touch ID in new iPhones there’s one wait to find out ;-)
    Haha
  • Reply 10 of 25
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 503member
    pujones1 said:
    Could this be it? Is this the Touch ID solution for the new phone? Was this purposely held or granted later so it would be closer to an actual reveal? I love Touch ID but the physical button needs to go. It would be great if they developed a new way of doing it that put them years ahead of the competition. 

    Here's to hoping. 
    The physical button went away with the iPhone 7.  It's easy to forget if you use a 7 everyday that the button is actually not there. The feedback is done that well.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobrajbdragonlolliver
  • Reply 11 of 25
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,915member
    The TouchID button on my 6s is gummed up because I clean it constantly. It would be very nice if Apple were able to replace this button with something that could easily be cleaned (like the screen) making the iPhone work that much better. As for whether it's better than anyone else's, that doesn't matter to me. I just want it to work properly.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,620member
    rob53 said:
    The TouchID button on my 6s is gummed up because I clean it constantly. It would be very nice if Apple were able to replace this button with something that could easily be cleaned (like the screen) making the iPhone work that much better. As for whether it's better than anyone else's, that doesn't matter to me. I just want it to work properly.
    What sort of cleaning are you doing constantly? I’ve never cleaned my screen and my old 6s is working perfectly with a family member. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 25
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,754member
    rob53 said:
    The TouchID button on my 6s is gummed up because I clean it constantly. It would be very nice if Apple were able to replace this button with something that could easily be cleaned (like the screen) making the iPhone work that much better. As for whether it's better than anyone else's, that doesn't matter to me. I just want it to work properly.
    Isn't that what happened already with the physical button not existing on the 7. It's just a round sapphire thing with haptic feedback.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 25
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 414member
    Not sure why everyone is itching for fingerprint security when, from everything I've read, Face ID is a step forward in bio-metrics. As a concept everything about Face ID sounds like an improvement.
  • Reply 15 of 25
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,915member
    rob53 said:
    The TouchID button on my 6s is gummed up because I clean it constantly. It would be very nice if Apple were able to replace this button with something that could easily be cleaned (like the screen) making the iPhone work that much better. As for whether it's better than anyone else's, that doesn't matter to me. I just want it to work properly.
    What sort of cleaning are you doing constantly? I’ve never cleaned my screen and my old 6s is working perfectly with a family member. 
    Normal face and hand oils. I guess you never actually touched your screen. I just carefully clean it with a dry cotton rag (or shirt). 
  • Reply 16 of 25
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,915member

    foggyhill said:
    rob53 said:
    The TouchID button on my 6s is gummed up because I clean it constantly. It would be very nice if Apple were able to replace this button with something that could easily be cleaned (like the screen) making the iPhone work that much better. As for whether it's better than anyone else's, that doesn't matter to me. I just want it to work properly.
    Isn't that what happened already with the physical button not existing on the 7. It's just a round sapphire thing with haptic feedback.
    Haven't used an iPhone 7 so wasn't aware it doesn't have the same kind of button as the 6s. Thanks for the information.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 25
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,288member
    rob53 said:

    foggyhill said:
    rob53 said:
    The TouchID button on my 6s is gummed up because I clean it constantly. It would be very nice if Apple were able to replace this button with something that could easily be cleaned (like the screen) making the iPhone work that much better. As for whether it's better than anyone else's, that doesn't matter to me. I just want it to work properly.
    Isn't that what happened already with the physical button not existing on the 7. It's just a round sapphire thing with haptic feedback.
    Haven't used an iPhone 7 so wasn't aware it doesn't have the same kind of button as the 6s. Thanks for the information.
    I've heard only a few people complain about how the haptic feedback feels compared to the old button mechanics, but I think it feels the same. You also have a Setting to adjust how much haptic feedback you get when pressing it. Still, a year later and it feels weird when it's powered down and you press the button and nothing happens.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 25
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,915member
    Soli said:
    rob53 said:

    foggyhill said:
    rob53 said:
    The TouchID button on my 6s is gummed up because I clean it constantly. It would be very nice if Apple were able to replace this button with something that could easily be cleaned (like the screen) making the iPhone work that much better. As for whether it's better than anyone else's, that doesn't matter to me. I just want it to work properly.
    Isn't that what happened already with the physical button not existing on the 7. It's just a round sapphire thing with haptic feedback.
    Haven't used an iPhone 7 so wasn't aware it doesn't have the same kind of button as the 6s. Thanks for the information.
    I've heard only a few people complain about how the haptic feedback feels compared to the old button mechanics, but I think it feels the same. You also have a Setting to adjust how much haptic feedback you get when pressing it. Still, a year later and it feels weird when it's powered down and you press the button and nothing happens.

    Then I shouldn't have any problem with the new iPhones since this is how my home button has been feeling for quite some time. It hasn't clicked in some time so I never know whether it's actually working. When I had the battery replaced under the recall, the technician mentioned it but to repair/replace it, I'd have to send to Apple because it's matched to the security enclave. I have until 9/23 to do this so I might buy a new one then try and get the old one repaired under AppleCare to give it more trade-in value.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 25
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,288member
    rob53 said:
    Soli said:
    rob53 said:

    foggyhill said:
    rob53 said:
    The TouchID button on my 6s is gummed up because I clean it constantly. It would be very nice if Apple were able to replace this button with something that could easily be cleaned (like the screen) making the iPhone work that much better. As for whether it's better than anyone else's, that doesn't matter to me. I just want it to work properly.
    Isn't that what happened already with the physical button not existing on the 7. It's just a round sapphire thing with haptic feedback.
    Haven't used an iPhone 7 so wasn't aware it doesn't have the same kind of button as the 6s. Thanks for the information.
    I've heard only a few people complain about how the haptic feedback feels compared to the old button mechanics, but I think it feels the same. You also have a Setting to adjust how much haptic feedback you get when pressing it. Still, a year later and it feels weird when it's powered down and you press the button and nothing happens.

    Then I shouldn't have any problem with the new iPhones since this is how my home button has been feeling for quite some time. It hasn't clicked in some time so I never know whether it's actually working. When I had the battery replaced under the recall, the technician mentioned it but to repair/replace it, I'd have to send to Apple because it's matched to the security enclave. I have until 9/23 to do this so I might buy a new one then try and get the old one repaired under AppleCare to give it more trade-in value.

    I'm pretty sure you won't be able to make that 23 Sept AC+ cut off if you're waiting to get the next iPhone before having it repaired.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    pujones1 said:
    Could this be it? Is this the Touch ID solution for the new phone? Was this purposely held or granted later so it would be closer to an actual reveal? I love Touch ID but the physical button needs to go. It would be great if they developed a new way of doing it that put them years ahead of the competition. 

    Here's to hoping. 
    Note that OLED displays should be thinner than LCD due to removal of the backlight substrate. Yet it appears that the 7s is .1mm thicker... could you be right?
    watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.