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Apple patent hints at future iPhone with a display that doubles up as fingerprint reader

The patent explains technology that could make dedicated sensors obsolete.

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Who needs a dedicated button for biometric authentication if you can make the display a sensor pad in itself! Apparently, this is what Apple has envisioned for its future iPhone. The company has reportedly filed a new patent with the US Patent and Trademark office that details an ‘interactive display with IR diodes’, which essentially means a display that could double up as a fingerprint sensor.

Although the patent has been originally filed by micro-LED display company named LuxVue in 2014, it has been reassigned to Apple after it acquired the company. The patent falls in line with certain rumors about the upcoming iPhone that indicated at an ‘invisible’ home button and Touch ID sensor. Apple is long rumored to be working on methods to get rid of the physical Touch ID sensor on its iPhone.

Apple patent

According to the patent, micro LEDs can be used in lieu of standard capacitive touch arrays, and separate IR diodes can be embedded straight into the display. It further says systems use micro LED in an active matrix display to emit light and a sensing IR diode to sense light, which is capable of detecting and reading fingerprints, The Verge notes. The design differs from the regular interactive screen hardware where two separate devices are layered together.

The patent further notes that certain areas of the display could include sections which have higher density of interactive pixels and supporting chips. This basically means more accurate reading of fingerprints. The use of IR light further allows the fingerprint sensing components to remain active even in low-light environments or when the screen is off. ALSO READ: Apple AirPods Review

While Apple time and again files for patents and these patents may or may not transform into a complete product, if the technology does make it to the commercial sphere, we might be able to see an iPhone without a home button. The company introduced the 3D Touch with its iPhone 6s that allows the display to be more interactive by long taps. With the given display-based authentication in place, users might be able to simply tap anywhere on the screen to unlock their iPhone. This in turn, could further help Apple cut down on physical buttons and build a more aesthetically pleasing iPhone.

In the past, some reports have suggested the use of this technology in the upcoming iPhone 8. Believed to be an anniversary edition iPhone, it is rumored to be the most premium iPhone ever and come with a glass sandwich design. Although a lot of new features such as wireless charging and dual camera setup is expected out of the iPhone 8, it is unlikely if the display-based fingerprint sensing mechanism would debut as soon as this year.  ALSO READ: Apple rumored to use glass chassis only for premium variant of iPhone 2017

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  • Published Date: February 16, 2017 7:15 PM IST