Apple files another fingerprint patent – this time, for a sensor beneath an iPhone’s display

The USPTO has just published a new Apple patent filing for a fingerprint-sensing system, but this time, it’s embedded beneath the screen.

However Apple intends to embed a fingerprint sensor (or not), it’s clear they’re covering all of their bases in terms of possible placement and functionality.

Specifically, as outlined in the just-filed patent application, the company has come up with a way to embed the sensor as an additional layer within a touchscreen display. This way, says the patent, the display itself becomes a fingerprint reader.

Designers and engineers have tried this before, but with little success, as any kind of interference between the sensing circuitry and a user’s fingerprint has been known to throw rejection and acceptance rates.

According to AppleInsider, the system shown in the published filing is the work of AuthenTec’s co-founder.

In 2012, Apple purchased AuthenTec for approximately US$356 million. AuthenTec specializes in strong fingerprint-based security, ideal for mobile devices.

Last month, the USPTO published another Apple filing for an encapsulated sensor, which looked to combine the encapsulated die with the bezel contract structures to create a single unitary package.

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 being embedded in the device’s home button.

The next iPhone was originally set to be released last month, 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.

Considering all of the patent applications and the company’s AuthenTec acquisition of 2012, it’s certainly likely Apple is planning fingerprint integration or at least litigation related to the technology.

 

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