June 20, 2013 -
The U.S Patent and Trademark Office has published an Apple filing for a encapsulated fingerprint sensor, though it’s unclear when or if this sensor system will make it in to the company’s popular consumer devices.
According to AppleInsider, Apple’s filing looks to combine the encapsulated die with the bezel contact structures to create a single unitary package.
From the patent (quoted in the AI report): “By encasing both the bezel and the sensor die in the encapsulation structure, those elements may be brought closer together than heretofore possible. In addition, the encapsulation structure physically protects the bezel and sensor die, and in particular maintains the spacing therebetween, in a fashion not possible by currently known device designs.”
As we’ve reported extensively in BiometricUpdate.com, there has been plenty of chatter as to whether or not a fingerprint sensor will be included in Apple’s highly-anticipated iPhone. Based on the timing of this filing though, it’s almost certain this sensor will not be included in the new phone, but that doesn’t mean that the new iPhone won’t ship with one.
It’s important to remember that this is all speculation, and that nothing has been confirmed. This is only a representation of the most prevalent theories on iPhone development today. Many Apple rumors have proven themselves to be completely wrong before.
In 2012, Apple purchased AuthenTec for approximately US$356 million. AuthenTec specializes in strong fingerprint-based security, ideal for mobile devices.
Later in the year, it was reported that AuthenTec would stop selling fingerprint technology to any of Apple’s competitors, starting in 2013. This included a significant list of existing customers such as Samsung, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Fujitsu.
Despite many who believed Apple’s iPhone 5 would even contain a fingerprint sensor, the device was launched sensor-less in the fall.
In October 2012, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent for biometric-sensor handheld devices that recognize a user by the image of their hand. Specifically, Apple patented the use of a biometric fingerprint sensor that is concealed behind a closed window on an iPhone.
As we reported in March, leaked photos purporting to show components from the new iPhone cast doubt on a fingerprint sensor embedded in the device’s home button.
The next iPhone was set to be released this June, though it’s possible the device’s anticipated fingerprint sensor is causing a delay and will push that date deeper into the calendar year, as reports have emerged suggesting Apple has been having problems with its work implementing the rumored sensor.
As the Biometrics Research Group argues, it’s likely the next round of smartphones will incorporate biometrics to some degree, and it’s expected that this integration will be driven by major manufacturers.