Apple has made an interesting acquisition, snapping up smart sensors maker AuthenTec in a transaction valued at $356 million, Reuters reported Friday. AuthenTec makes fingerprint sensor chips used in personal computers.

What’s more, its swipe sensors can read the live layer beneath the skin’s surface and comply with strict government standards. They also produce chips that utilize near-field communication (NFC) technology which is said to be a part of this fall’s iPhone hardware refresh…

Reuters reports that the deal, which was disclosed in AuthenTec‘s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission entails Apple paying $8.00 per share, a premium of 58 percent for AuthenTec‘s shares based on Thursday’s closing price of $5.07.

AuthenTec licenses its technology to the likes of Lenovo, Fujitsu and Dell and recently cut a deal with Samsung to use its technology to bolster enterprise security in the Galaxy maker’s upcoming Android smartphones and tablets.

From SnapTech’s website:

AuthenTec owns many of the foundational technology patents from the fingerprint biometric industry, and today has a broad IP and patent portfolio consisting of nearly 200 issued and filed U.S. patents, as well as additional foreign patent derivatives.

These include patents covering fingerprint sensors and sensor packaging, software and end use. AuthenTec technology serves as a strong foundation for the Company’s smart sensors, identity management software and embedded security.

As for the smart sensors the company makes:

AuthenTec‘s award-winning smart fingerprint sensors provide multiple touch-powered features that extend beyond user authentication to include convenience, personalization and touch control. The Company’s TouchChip area fingerprint sensors and modules comply with government and industry standards and offer the ruggedness, strong security and ease of integration needed for quick and broad deployment.

Sounds like Apple has gotten hold of some interesting tech here.

So, you’ll be able to just swipe your finger across a sensor to unlock a future iPhone? Not so fast. If SeekingAlpha is right, Apple is adding a biometric sensor “so that the iPhone can become a safe and secure payment device”. MacRumors points at one specific sensor by AuthenTen which is marketed for use specifically for authentication for mobile wallets.

Numerous patent filings have made known Apple’s intentions to use NFC in future products. A massive NFC-related patent discovered yesterday describes a number of use cases for NFC-powered iPhones, including connected homes and the ability to control a variety of consumer electronics products.

According to “trusted sources” and strings discovered in the iOS Beta code, the next iPhone could easily incorporate an NFC chip. Another related patent indicates that Apple is interested in pursuing this technology.

Apple was also granted key patents for iTravel and iWallet software that could take advantage of NFC hardware and the Passbook application in iOS 6, which now serves as a central repository for e-tickets, discount coupons and stuff like that.

What do you make of this acquisition?

  • Evostance

    They recently cut a deal with Samsung. Seems like theres more than meets the eye here – coincidence the company they just bought cut a deal with Samsung? Pretty sure they won’t be honouring that longer than they have to, yet again forcing Samsung out of the market.

  • Eric Armstrong

    Anyone else think Apple is a little late to the NFC party? And do you also think that it doesn’t matter, because NFC won’t get truely popular until Apple does it? (Like tablets and smartphones)

  • Eric Armstrong

    Anyone else think that Apple is a little late to the NFC party? And do you also think that it doesn’t matter, because NFC won’t get truly popular until Apple does it? (Like tablets, and smartphones)

  • Rafael Damasceno

    The full article shows up in the main page. You should fix that.

  • Will Walker

    Interesting. Apple buys a company that’s currently doing business with Samsung.

  • I have an old HP Tablet PC that had the finger swipe feature to bypass manually entering in my password.

    I found that tech convenient only about 50% of the time – as it was frustrating to swipe and swipe and swipe – then be forced to manually enter my password anyways!

    So, I hope the tech has improved, knowing Apple’s commitment to making tech “just work” – I’m optimistic it will be great, but I’m not holding my breath it will be in our iPhone 5 – maybe next years iPad in the Spring. What do you think?