Apple plans under-screen sensors to include both Touch ID and Face ID

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited July 2021
Apple's ongoing research into embedding sensors into iPhone displays may not just mean the removal of the Face ID notch, but it could bring back Touch ID too.

Face ID may no longer need a notch
Face ID may no longer need a notch


There are constant rumors that Apple will reduce the size of the Face ID notch in forthcoming devices like the "iPhone 13" range. Separately, there have been regular claims that Touch ID will come back as part of a display, rather than via a separate, physical button.

Now a newly-revealed patent suggests that Apple sees both of these as part of the same aim. Apple wants the ability to bring back Touch ID inside a screen, and to remove the notch completely with the same method.

"Through-display optical transmission, reception, or sensing through micro-optic elements," is really concerned with any detection of just about any thing through the display. But even in a patent that naturally aims to be as broad and wide-ranging as it can, Apple does single out Face ID and Touch ID -- without using those terms.

Instead, Apple says that in some cases "it may be desirable to determine whether an object or user" is close to, or looking at, a device.

"It may also be desirable to capture a two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) image of an object or user that is proximate to a device," continues Apple. "In some cases, the 2D or 3D image may be an image of a fingerprint, a face, or a scene in a field of view (FoV)."

There are elements of the patent that extend beyond figuring out if that's your thumb blocking the display, or your nose pointing at it.

"It may also be useful to acquire images or data pertaining to a device's environment
Desai from the patent showing one of very many possible arrangements of sensors underneath a display
Desai from the patent showing one of very many possible arrangements of sensors underneath a display


Importantly, Apple wants such sensors to have no affect on anything the display is showing.

"When an optical transmitter, receiver, or sensor is positioned under a device's display, a portion of the device's display surface does not have to be reserved for the optical transmitter, receiver, or sensor," says the patent, "and in some cases the size of the device's display may be increased."

That last is Apple admitting the displays may end up being a little thicker because of this. But it's also saying that the entire surface area of a display will be used for whatever the user wants, there will be no bezel-like areas over these sensors.

This patent is credited to six inventors, including Wenrui Cai, and Mark T. Winkler. Their previous collaborations include a proposal for users to be able to share data by pointing their iPhones at one another.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    omasouomasou Posts: 388member
    To me it sounds like the patent is covering its bases for all potential applications of the technology and not necessarily referring to reintroducing Touch ID.

    I for one dislike Touch ID and found it frustrating to use as a biometric lock add rain or freshly washed hands and the technology was completely useless.
    edited July 2021
  • Reply 2 of 8
    Why does the US Patent Office issue patents for vaporware? There should be a working model to demonstrate proof of concept. Patents on vaporware is anti-competitive and stifles innovation. IP laws are a joke nowadays.
    Ofer
  • Reply 3 of 8
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,701member
    Why does the US Patent Office issue patents for vaporware? There should be a working model to demonstrate proof of concept. Patents on vaporware is anti-competitive and stifles innovation. IP laws are a joke nowadays.
    Agreed - the real problem is intellectual property and its related lawsuits has become its own industry. We see this with all the patent trolls that produce nothing but exist solely to sue other companies that do.

    omasou said:
    To me it sounds like the patent is covering its bases for all potential applications of the technology and not necessarily referring to reintroducing Touch ID.

    I for one dislike Touch ID and found it frustrating to use as a biometric lock add rain or freshly washed hands and the technology was completely useless.
    In general, Face ID is quicker, more accurate and more reliable than Touch ID was, but there were definitely times where touchID was nice, and adding it would also give the option to combine the two for increased security. As far as the wet finger issue, IME simply wiping my thumb on my pants was sufficient to allow TouchID to work.
    cgWerksmogieargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,843member
    MplsP said:
    In general, Face ID is quicker, more accurate and more reliable than Touch ID was, but there were definitely times where touchID was nice, and adding it would also give the option to combine the two for increased security. As far as the wet finger issue, IME simply wiping my thumb on my pants was sufficient to allow TouchID to work.
    Yes, I was initially skeptical about FaceID, but now that I have it, I do like it in maybe even a majority of cases. But, for all those other cases, it would be nice to have TouchID as well. Having both would be perfect.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 8
    Having both Face ID and Touch ID would be a marriage made in Heaven! But is there time to apply both to iPhone 13? 

    Fingers crossed. 
    argonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    omasou said:
    To me it sounds like the patent is covering its bases for all potential applications of the technology and not necessarily referring to reintroducing Touch ID.

    I for one dislike Touch ID and found it frustrating to use as a biometric lock add rain or freshly washed hands and the technology was completely useless.
    How are masks treating you? jk jk.

    Touch ID was always faster. And additionally by the time you brought the phone in front of you, the phone was already open as your finger was already over the Touch ID sensor. 

    I think both have their merits, but aesthetically, if we got to a notchless iPhone quicker, I would support underscreen Touch ID until under screen Face ID tech was perfected.

    Unfortunately, apple went in the opposite direction leaving us with the slower (and more inconvenient) authentication method, and an aesthetically less appealing (I get the notch is "recognizable and iconic") device. 

    But we will get there, and that time may be sooner rather than later.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,843member
    lukas_canji said:
    How are masks treating you? jk jk.
    Yeah, the mask aspect is a major pain, and certainly a game-changer in regard to TouchID vs FaceID debate.

    But, there are other times FaceID is a bit of a pain as well. I'm near-sighted, so if I'm using my iPhone w/o my glasses (which I often do), it can't scan my face because it is too close. So, it tries and fails (for any authentication requiring thing, not just unlocking), and then I have to move the phone away and try to remember which button/link, etc. to press to get it to try again (as now it's too far away to read the dialog box).

    Also, if the phone is mounted in the car, or in a holder of some kind at the desk, you have to position yourself in the right place or remove it if you can't, and then put it back.

    TouchID was much better at that kind of stuff. Or, even authorizing something. With FaceID, you have to try and double-click the side (power) button (w/o pushing the volume buttons on the opposite side!). Just touching the fingerprint sensor was so much nicer. It was like the active authorization and bio one, combined (instead of separated with FaceID). (And, as an aside, who was the ergonomic brainiac who decided to move the power button to the side, instead of top... slaps forehead.)

    Aside from that, as I said, I think I prefer FaceID a lot of the time. It is convenient to just pick up the phone and swipe up. That often feels quicker, though I'm not sure it necessarily is. As you mentioned, I got used to just about picking up my phone with finger/thumb on the sensor so it was unlocked before I'd even gotten it in front of me.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,947member
    There are patents for similar ideas to this by Apple that predate the iPhone entirely. Are they even close to happening?
    So far only sensor under screen Apple have is in the Watch. 
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