If Apple follows through on one of its patents, the next iPhone might not have a dedicated sensor to read fingerprints. The patent, published today by the US Patent and Trademark office, details an “interactive display with IR diodes.” This would allow Apple devices to read fingerprints directly through the screen, instead of by relying on a dedicated fingerprint reader built into the home button.
Originally filed by micro-LED display company LuxVue in 2014, the patent was reassigned in April after Apple acquired the company, according to AppleInsider. The patent says, “Exemplary methods and systems use a micro light emitting diode (LED) in an active matrix display to emit light and a sensing IR diode to sense light,” with the sensing IR diode detecting and reading fingerprints.
This design differs from the active display matrix and interactive screen hardware often found on other mobile devices, which “require two separate devices to be layered together,” according to the patent.
As AppleInsider reports, Apple may be looking to “ditch Touch ID altogether as it moves to a new, more advanced system,” because “a touchscreen capable of acting as an input device and fingerprint scanner would save space and grant greater design flexibility.”
Rumors regarding TouchID and the iPhone 8, sometimes referred to as the iPhone X (for 10th anniversary), have been circulating for quite a while, but Apple has yet to shed any light on what the device will contain, let alone if we’ll see any of this patented tech surface.
Apple, however, is not alone in devising new fingerprint readers. Synoptics has also been breaking ground with a new optical fingerprint sensor and fingerprint readers with built in facial recognition.