New patent reveals Apple’s future plans to turn Touch ID into trackpad, integrate sensor into display

Just a few days after a patent application revealed the inner-workings of the iPhone 5s’ Touch ID, a new Apple patent application filed with the WIPO shows the company’s future plans for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

The Touch ID Trackpad

The patent reveals that Apple envisions using the Touch ID not only for authentication, but even for using it as a trackpad, which would track the motion of a user’s finger and accordingly adjust the UI. Apple uses the Maps app as an example, where users could move their finger left or right on the Touch ID home button, and the map would pan in that direction. An upward movement could then activate the multitasking interface.

touch id trackpad maps

This is pretty exciting since it opens up another avenue for gestures without creating a lot of conflicts with the existing ones. Some of the gestures Apple lists in the patent application:

  • Revolving finger around sensor
  • Twisting finger on the sensor
  • Finger movement in the right/left/up/down directions
  • Finger movement in the four different diagonal directions
touch id trackpad gestures 1

The Touch ID trackpad could even double up as a joystick for games, helping bring on-screen game controls off the screen.

touch id games

Touch ID in the Display

Even before the Touch ID was introduced with the iPhone 5s, patent applications as well as rumors suggested that Apple would integrate the fingerprint sensor right within the display, effectively making any portion of the touchscreen a sensor. This could be done since Touch ID as well as the touch screen on the iPhone are made of capacitive sensors, albeit with some differences.

The Touch ID being integrated into the touchscreen could enable a number of useful features, one of which is letting certain apps launch after a tap only if the fingerprint is valid. So banking apps or your mail app, which contain sensitive data, would launch only if your fingerprint matches the stored fingerprint.

touch id app fingeprint

Another cool feature this could enable is creation of gestures based on which fingers you touch the screen with. So if you long-press with your right thumb, you could launch mail, but if you long-press the display with your left thumb you could launch the camera app.

The whole application is pretty incredible, detailing features like multi-user profiles and login, using the sensor for parental control, authorizing payments etc. To read the whole thing, head over to WIPO’s website.

[via MacRumors, Unwired View]