Apple has patented new technology that allows an entire iPhone display to become a fingerprint scanner.
The invention comes just in time for iPhone 8, which is expected to come with a Touch Bar-style “function area” in place of its Touch ID button.
Other smartphone manufacturers already did away with physical home buttons, opting for virtual controls instead. Yet Apple stuck with the physical button for iPhone 7 — mostly so users could enjoy Touch ID. However, it’s thought iPhone 8 will change that.
Apple is expected to do away with the Home button for iPhone 8 so the design team can dramatically reduce the size of the bezels around the handsets’ display. This will allow Apple to introduce bigger screens without increasing the size of the iPhone’s footprint.
Apple fingerprint-sensing display patents
Fans feared this would mean the end of Touch ID, and that Apple would switch to other biometric security solutions — such as iris scanners or facial recognition — instead. But the company just got granted a patent for a new iPhone display capable of reading fingerprints.
Entitled “Electronic device including finger biometric sensor carried by a touch display and related methods,” the patent describes how fingerprint-sensing pixels could be integrated into a display panel to make the entire iPhone screen a fingerprint scanner.
The fingerprint-sensing pixels would sit on top of the display layer, between a biometric sensing layer, a “transparent dielectric layer” and “transparent conductive traces.” A fingerprint-scanning controller would also get integrated into the panel.
Apple says turning an entire display into a fingerprint scanner would increase the speed of authentication, allowing the security measure to be performed automatically during normal use. This could cut out a dedicated “authentication step” that prompts users for their fingerprint.
Fingerprint sensing display and other iPhone 8 rumors
This isn’t the first time Apple has been granted a patent on fingerprint-sensing displays. But it’s interesting that it surfaces just months before iPhone 8, when such technology could be crucial to the major design overhaul Cupertino reportedly plans to unveil this fall.
iPhone 8 is expected to get a 5.15-inch OLED display that will fit into a form factor similar in size to that of the iPhone 7, which carries a 4.7-inch LCD screen. Some of that space will reportedly be used for a mini Touch Bar that will contain contextual buttons and shortcuts.
Want more info on other iPhone 8 rumors? Watch our iPhone 8 mockup video below for a glimpse of the (possible) future.