Apple may soon hide fingerprint sensors in iPhone screens

A patent filed by Apple shows how it might be done amid rumors this year’s iPhone will get rid of the home button.

February 28, 2017

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A patent filed by Apple shows how it might be done amid rumors this year’s iPhone will get rid of the home button.

Apple’s patent shows IR diodes under glass reading the fingerprint of the user.
Source: Apple/USPTO

The technology of hiding fingerprint scanners under the glass of the display has been looked into by many smartphone manufacturers. Samsung was believed to be working on this, but the latest rumor about the Galaxy S8 is that the fingerprint scanner is being moved to the back of the phone, where many Android handset makers already put it. Apple, meanwhile, is reportedly getting rid of the home button for it's 10th anniversary iPhone. Now a patent from the company has surfaced, showing details how it might get a fingerprint sensor to work under the iPhone screen.

The patent for an "interactive display with IR diodes" was originally filed by LuxVue in 2014, but Apple acquired the company last year, according to The Verge. The patent outlines that the technology works by using a "micro light emitting diode (LED) in an active matrix display to emit light and a sensing IR diode to sense light." This diode would be able to read fingerprints, giving Apple a new way of adding biometric security to its smartphones.

Patents are not always a good gauge for what will make it to market. In this case, the patent has been around for a few years and it details a technology multiple companies are reportedly working on. It's certainly not beyond the imagination that Apple might introduce this technology in a future iPhone. Whether that iPhone is released this year, though, is another question. Regardless, when the first underglass fingerprint scanning solution makes it to market, many will be eager to copy it or roll out the technology in their own products like fingerprint access controllers.

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