“The method could point to how Apple might overcome the difficulties it reportedly experienced in trying to integrate its Touch ID fingerprint scanning system into its new iPhone devices.”
A newly granted patent may point the way toward a solution to Apple’s in-display Touch ID problem. The patent describes an alternative version of 3D Touch, Apple’s pressure sensing display interaction system for the iPhone.
As AppleInsider reports, the currently used 3D Touch system is primarily based on capacitance sensors that can measure the strengthening electrical charge of a finger pressing down harder on the iPhone screen; whereas the system described in the patent uses ultrasonic sensors to determine the force of the press, bouncing ultrasonic pulses off of the user’s finger to determine how close it is to the screen, and assessing how its shape is changing when pressed against the display to calculate the force being used.
The method could point to how Apple might overcome the difficulties it reportedly experienced in trying to integrate its Touch ID fingerprint scanning system into its new iPhone devices. At least one well-respected analyst has suggested that the primary obstacle in those efforts was the elaborate layered design of the current 3D Touch system, which prevented an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor from being deployed effectively under the iPhone’s display. This new ultrasonic sensor system could take up less internal space, and would seem to complement an in-display fingerprint scanning solution that is also based on ultrasonic technology.
That means that Apple wouldn’t have to choose between a full-size screen with facial recognition technology or a small screen with a Touch ID scanner below it for future iPhone devices, as it appears to have done with its iPhone X and iPhone 8 smartphones.
Then again, this patent was first filed in 2015, and its lack of official approval is unlikely to have deterred Apple from trying to implement the technology in its latest devices; for whatever reason, Apple appears to have decided not to go in this direction. But if iPhone X users miss Touch ID enough – or if Samsung succeeds in implementing in-display fingerprint scanning for its Galaxy S9 smartphone – maybe Apple will reconsider the idea.