June 29, 2015 -
Apple has applied for a patent entitled “Fingerprint Biometric Sensor Including Drive Signal Level Updating,” for a new circuitry that is capable collecting fingerprint data by using special “sensing pixels” within screens, and thus, eliminating the need for a physical “home” button on future iPhone models, according to a report by Cult of Mac.
The announcement comes a week after it was reported that Apple was developing a new iPhone design that features a new advanced chip for its multitouch displays that “will also come with integrated fingerprint sensors”, potentially replacing the home button.
In the patent application, which was filed back in December 2013, Apple explains how the new finger biometric sensing pixels would be “based upon the updated drive signal level” and operate “with the [user’s] finger positioned adjacent the array of finger biometric sensing pixels.”
The display Apple describes in the patent application would likely be an LCD display similar to the ones currently being used in the latest generation of iPhones, although it could also be another type of display, such as the OLED screens that Apple is reportedly researching.
If Apple is successful in eliminating Touch ID as part of the iPhone’s “home” button, it would be able to make more room for a larger display that could essentially cover the entire front side of the phone.
In a separate report by Patently Apple, Charlottesville, Virginia, based fingerprint reader startup Privaris announced it recently transferred 26 of its 31 patents to Apple, according to a report by Patently Apple.
Privaris manufactures tiny fingerprint readers that can be attached to a key chain, and lists Authentec – a company Apple acquired in 2012 — as one of its technology partners.
Apple acquired the first three Privaris patents on December 19, 2012, then purchased the majority of the remaining Privaris patents in October 2014.
However, as the Patently Apple report points out, Privaris’ website has not been updated in four and half years which probably means that Apple has acquired only the patents and not the company itself.
The acquired Privaris patents covers technology that could potentially improve the iPhone’s TouchID sensor by allowing Apple to use a touchscreen and fingerprint reader at the same time.
Another Privaris patent covers biometric access control technology that could allow users to open a door with their iPhone by scanning their fingerprint and holding their phone up to a reader, much like the way users are able to pay for products with Apple Pay.
The majority of Privaris’ patent portfolio is comprised of fingerprint and touchscreen technology to enable transactions, control machines, and back up personal data.