Apple hints at ultrasonic voice biometrics, in-display fingerprints and foldable screens
The source said the iPhone maker already developed prototype foldable screens for internal testing but has not yet plans in place for commercialization of the devices.
Moreover, developments efforts so far would only relate to a display, with no information relating to a full working prototype yet.
A specific screen size for these foldable iPhones would still be under discussion internally at Apple, but it is likely the devices will feature a mostly invisible hinge with the electronics stationed behind the display. That could include an in-display biometric fingerprint sensor, which the company is still testing for 2021 release, according to Bloomberg.
Apple investigates biometric voice authentication via ultrasonic sensors
Apple also had an additional biometrics patent application published by the USPTO last week. The document shows how the Cupertino company is experimenting with sound detection, not through microphones but ultrasonic sensors.
Patent application number 20210010797 is named “Self-Mixing Interferometry Sensors Used to Sense Vibration of a Structural or Housing Component Defining an Exterior Surface of a Device.”
The document makes the case for ultrasonic sensors to replace traditional microphones on the base that the former are more resilient, and can operate in air-tight (or sealed) environments.
Moreover, a sensor system including an ultrasonic component could also accommodate a heat sensor, a position sensor, a light or optical sensor, and others.
Consequently, such a system could be configured to sense parameters like vibration, light, touch, force, heat, movement, relative motion, biometric data, air quality, proximity, position, connectedness, and more.
Apple also recently published a pair of patents related to vein recognition for authentication to the Apple Watch, and to allow users of head-mounted wearables like the AR glasses the company is rumored to be developing to authenticate through biometrics on other devices, and vice versa.