Apple patents biometric technology for iPhone, iPad

October 11, 2012 - 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week granted Apple a patent for biometric-sensor handheld devices that recognize a user by the image of his or her hand.

Apple has specifically patented the use of a biometric fingerprint sensor that is concealed behind a closed window on an iPhone. Upon the iPhone’s activation in a locked state, a lock screen may be displayed requesting a user to slide a finger across the display to unlock the device. The electronic device may request user authentication to access the handheld device. The device could then display an instruction screen requesting that a user provide biometric data via their fingerprint which will be read by the fingerprint sensor for authentication.

The patent, in effect, allows Apple to use biometrics in order to unlock a mobile device and to complete e-commerce transactions on-line with secure authentication   According to the patent filing, the technology can be applied to a series of Apple mobile devices, including the iPad, iPod and Nano.  The patent also describes the fingerprint sensor as a window that can transition from transparent to opaque configurations, by using a polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) display.

The patent was expected since Apple has been seeking to accelerate the integration of biometric technologies into its consumer electronics and computing products.   As reported by, Apple recently entered into an agreement with biometric security firm Microlatch to work on a new suite of products that will secure mobile payment using near field communication.  Apple also entered into an agreement to purchase AuthenTec Inc. this summer for approximately US$356 million in order to obtain access to many foundational technology patents for fingerprint biometrics, along with a broad patent portfolio consisting of 200 issued and filed patents in the United States.

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.