In the future, Apple iPhones and iPads could be shifting their Touch ID sensor from the home button to the screen.
A US patent application from the company, published last week, shows how a fingerprint sensor could be embedded inside a touchscreen, where it would be able to capture a single fingerprint at a predetermined fixed location. A shopping app, for instance, could indicate a spot on the screen for you to place your finger on in order to authenticate a purchase.
It doesn’t necessarily need to stop there, either. The patent also suggests that a fingerprint could be captured from any location on a screen, or that multiple fingerprints could be scanned and captured. An iPad screen could potentially scan an entire palm print, or all five of the user’s hands simultaneously.
The patent proposes that the sensor would be an integrated circuit either connected to the top surface of the display or the bottom surface of a cover sheet, or could be a full panel of the display itself. It also suggests that any conductive material used would be “substantially transparent”, meaning it wouldn’t degrade the visibility and clarity of the image. Indium tin oxide is an example of a suitable material mentioned in the document.
As with all patent applications, just because it exists does not mean the technology it describes will make it into future products. But it does afford us an interesting glimpse at the sort of things Apple is pondering for the future of its iPhone and iPad ranges.
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