Apple Wins Patent for under-Display Touch ID Feature, Might Be Used in Future iPhones

Apple has recently been awarded a patent for under-display fingerprint scanning technology. While the company already uses the technology in the recently released 16-inch MacBook Pro, the patent could mean that more products from Apple would use the technology going forward.

The patent (US 10,509,940 B2) was published on USPTO’s website shows how optical fingerprint readers can be embedded under the display for a more seamless design. While capacitive and optical fingerprint readers each have their advantages and disadvantages, optical fingerprint readers are the way forward.

Apple Patent Optical Fingerprint Reader

Apple had been using capacitive fingerprint readers on iPhones, iPads, iPods, and MacBooks. Later, the iPhone maker shifted to Face ID, a 3D facial recognition system for its iPhones and iPads. However, it requires quite but of space to work as it consists of an IR camera, a flood illuminator, a dot projector, and an RGB camera.

Recently, Apple shifted from capacitive a fingerprint reader to an optical fingerprint reader for the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The optical fingerprint reader used in the new MacBook Pro is embedded into its power button.

It is being rumored that Apple might bring such under-display Touch ID fingerprint readers to future iPhones and iPads. Some reports say that the company might keep both Face ID and Touch ID in upcoming devices since both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Our Take

Apple wants to move to entirely notch-less screens for its future smartphones, and it could do so by either embedding all the sensors required for Face ID mechanism under the display or by using an under-display optical fingerprint reader. While there’s a chance that the company might implement both mechanisms, it would be simply too expensive to do so.

There’s also a chance of Apple using Qualcomm’s second-generation ultrasonic fingerprint reader, which has 17 times larger area than the predecessor. It also allows users to use two fingers at once for authentication, which means it is much more secure than using just one fingerprint.