Apple has been granted 50 new US patents, including one for an acoustic fingerprint scanning system.
Like the groundbreaking fingerprint sensor technology announced by Qualcomm earlier this year, Apple’s system is based on ultrasonic scanning. Essentially, an acoustic signal is sent to a detected finger, and the way in which the signal is reflected back allows for the creation of a detailed, 3D map of the fingerprint. The key advantage here is, of course, that ultrasonic waves can pass through physical material without the need for direct contact with the subject’s skin, so an ultrasonic Touch ID system could replace the physical home button on the iPhone.
As AppleInsider notes, this solution could offer applications in Apple’s quest for an in-display fingerprint sensor. But it also must be noted that this particular patent was filed back in August of 2015, and the state of play now is completely different, with the latest rumors suggesting that Apple will shunt Touch ID to the rear of the iPhone 8 in order to have a full-size front display and a strong focus on facial recognition.
Other newly granted patents include one for the iPhone 7 Plus’s depth sensing camera, and a patent pertaining to a head-mounted display – possibly a future extension of Apple’s device lineup, or another red herring from Apple’s propensity to cover its IP bases with extensive patent filings.
August 29, by Alex Perala