Apple patent hints at iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner
A recent patent application by Apple outlines new technology which may bring the long rumored fingerprint scanner to the upcoming iPhone 5s.
Last year, Apple acquired AuthenTec, a company holding over 200 security related patents, including some for fingerprint scanning technology. Since then, there have been plenty of rumors of such technology being featured on the soon to be released iPhone 5s. Several analysts have suggested the possibility of such a feature as likely, and a recent Apple patent published by the US Patent and Trademarking office seems to confirm that indeed, that is the case. The new patent is for a fingerprint scanner that would be comprised of a substrate and dye with printed circuitry, and would be embedded into the bezel of a mobile device. The sensor would be “approximately the width of an average user’s fingertip, but only several pixels tall, typically between 1 and 8 pixels, and possibly as many as 16 pixels tall”. The description of the scanner sounds similar to what Validity was showing embedded into an Android device earlier this year, at CES.
Apple hasn’t divulged a lot of information regarding the how the scanner works, but they have explained that it would capture several thin image strips of the fingerprint and then assemble them with software to get a full image: “ In operation, a user swipes a finger over a surface of the sensor. The sensor captures a number of thin strips of the fingerprint as the finger is swiped, and the complete fingerprint is assembled in software for use in authentication. Such a sensor apparatus is typically preferred when a compact sensor is desired. However, the present disclosure is not limited to strip sensors. For example, with reference to FIG. 9, there is shown therein an embodiment 100 of an integrally molded bezel and sensor die wherein the sensor is of a type that is, when viewed from above, approximately the width and length of an average user’s fingertip. In operation, the user holds their fingertip in place over the sensor area, and the fingerprint is scanned, typically in raster fashion. Such sensors are typically referred to as area sensors”