Apple has long-been rumoured to be prepping a home button-less iPhone, and there’s been a lot of talk about what that means for the Touch ID fingerprint scanner – currently embedded in the physical home button.
In fact, Apple isn’t the only company said to be ditching the physical button, with Samsung also expected to introduce an almost full-face display on the Galaxy S8.
But while Samsung has been rumoured to be moving the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone, much like the LG G5, Apple could be trying a different approach that could debut on the iPhone 8.
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Patents for integrating fingerprint scanning technology below a smartphone screen have been floating about for some time, and now a new one has emerged from Apple.
Pubished yesterday by the US Patent and Trademark office, the patent was originally filed by micro-LED display company LuxVue in 2014.
Apple since bought the company and the patent, spotted by AppleInsider, was reassigned to the firm following the acquisition in April.
The design detailed in this latest filing involves an “interactive display with IR diodes,” with a micro light emitting diode (LED) in an active matrix display emitting light while an IR diode senses the light bouncing back from the finger and reads the fingerprints.
It’s a different technology to the active matrix hardware currently seen on numerous mobile devices, and would allow Apple to place the fingerprint sensor beneath the phone’s display.
Of course, we have no way of knowing whether Apple plans to debut this technology on the upcoming iPhone 8, as a patent is no guarantee of a technology making it to a consumer product.
But if rumours of an almost full-face screen are accurate – and we’ve been hearing rather a lot of them – this kind of new sensing tech would go a long way to helping Apple realise that design while retaining the fingerprint scanning element.
The iPhone 8 is likely to debut later this year, though at this point we have very little in the way of confirmed details.
Rumours of wireless charging have been doing the rounds, and with Apple joining the Wireless Power Consortium this week, further fuel has been added to such rumours.
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Let us know what you think of the patent in the comments.