Sonavation 3D fingerprint scanning

A recent report by DigiTimes, a somewhat accurate Taiwanese trade publication, contended that Apple has developed in-house technology for embedding Touch ID sensors into the screen, potentially eliminating the need for the physical Home button.

Tuesday, a security technology firm called Sonavation provided a glimpse into how Home button-free iPhones could be engineered as it announced a breakthrough 3D fingerprint scanning technology embeddable under the Corning Gorilla Glass which Apple uses to protect iPhone displays.

Sonovation’s solution bonds ultrasonic biometric sensors directly to the Gorilla Glass, allowing fingerprints to be read through the cover glass.

Though details on how it will work are sparse, Sonovation’s Chief Technology Officer Rainer Schmitt says their technology is “well suited for through-the-glass fingerprinting and specifically architected to deliver advanced security and ease-of-integration into mobile and Internet of Things devices.”

The sensors are capable of capturing fingerprint data into the ridges and valleys despite moisture, dirt or oil that might be present on a user’s fingerprint.

Apple’s Touch ID does not like wet or dirty fingers.

Sonavation 3D fingerprint scanning 002

As mentioned before, DigiTimes recently said that Apple’s already created a solution in-house which involves using a single chip to integrate the touch and display driver into a single module.

“The integrated design would fit into future iPhone designs – models with ultra-thin and ultra-narrow displays, and with a whole plane design eliminating the Home button,” reads the article.

Not only would Sonavation’s technology pave the way for a more reliable Touch ID scanning as it works with wet, dirty and oily fingers without compromising accuracy, but also allow for more appealing iPhone designs.

Martin Hajek Touch ID embeded into iPhone screen

For starters, it eliminates the expensive process of cutting a hole in the glass.

But more important than that, getting rid of the Home button would eliminate the “chin” at the iPhone’s bottom. Apple could then cover that area with the display, potentially engineering an even larger-screened iPhone without having to blow up the whole device in order to do so.

Should Apple ditch the iPhone’s iconic physical Home button it would have to replace it with some sort of an on-screen virtual counterpart as seen on some Android handsets.

The iPhone maker has filed for multiple patents related to fingerprint detection embedded in the screen. For example, a recent patent filing entitled “Fingerprint Biometric Sensor Including Drive Signal Level Updating” has described using special “sensing pixels” embedded within the screen to capture fingerprint data.

The sensing pixels would be based “upon the updated drive signal level,” with the user’s finger “positioned adjacent the array of finger biometric sensing pixels.”

Yet another patent filing outlines detecting multiple fingerprints simultaneously.

Sonavation’s technology currently works with the Gorilla Glass, but not with sapphire that Apple has long been attempting to switch to but hasn’t yet due to ongoing issues related to volume production of large sapphire covers.

So, should Apple just license Sonovation’s technology, implement it into a future iPhone and kiss the Home button goodbye, do you think?

Button-free iPhone concept via 3D artist Martin Hajek for Computerbild.de.

Source: Sonavation via The Next Web

  • Cant wait for a full screen iPhone, the home button could easily join the rest of the iPhones buttons on the edges, however I can speculate that apple is experimenting with force touch to replace the home button. Force touching the screen at the bottom of the phone could replace the physical home button.

    • Rowan09

      That would be great.

    • John

      I’m liking that idea

    • askep3

      Would be much better than the virtual buttons on other phones, personally I hate those

    • ieatcalcium

      I like force touch more than a physical button honestly.

  • Montgomery Tyler

    I’m liking that idea

  • Shadowelite123

    I don’t know I like the idea of a physical home button. It feels nice to me and it’s convenient. Plus what if the screen cracks? Will the embedded scanner still work properly?

    • Luke

      If the screen cracks, you’re probably gonna want to replace the display anyway…but time will tell.

      • Elias Chao

        I’ve seen a lot of iPhones being used with a cracked screen.

      • Shadowelite123

        yea but theres a reason why the touch id home button is protected by a ring. so it doesn’t crack. that would mean that should a crack occur, the touch id feature would not would. or thats at least a possibility, but it is a strong hypothesis.

      • Touch ID is the first invention of fingerprint tech that apple has created, by the time that they have designed a touchscreen method they will be using high quality sapphire. In the meeting the first point under screen fingerprint sensor would be what if the screen cracks. They know what their doing.

    • Dennis Cimmino

      Are you for or against a physical home button? Your first two sentences contradict one another.

      • Everett Clark Davis

        I think what was intended was, “I don’t know. I like the idea of a physical home button. It feels nice to me and it’s convenient. Plus what if the screen cracks? Will the embedded scanner still work properly?” It seems he’s for a physical home button 🙂

      • Shadowelite123

        Yea lol even without the period, it would have meant the same thing. Plus, the second sentence has no side direction since its dependent to the first sentence.

    • coLin

      I recommend you try the new MacBook trackpad with force touch technology. feels exactly like a button

      • Shadowelite123

        yea but I’m not sure how it would be with the iPhone. On the Apple Watch, force touch is unresponsive when the screen is off. Im somewhat confused on how exactly it would work if it was implemented as a home button replacement. Well lets see how they implement it.

      • coLin

        good point but time will tell

  • nonchalont

    Interesting. Sounds really neat and sleek.

  • MrJohnBlaze

    A 5 inch bezeless iPhone with a sapphire screen and no antenna bands would be perfect

    • coLin

      they already have that under the sleeve but they are keeping it for the iPhone 7 or 8. or 9… Apple’s way of innovating lately 😐

  • Mike Colacone Saal

    A zephyr like native experience? Yeshhhh

  • Its 2047: “Grandpa; you actually had buttons on your phone and had to charge it once a day? And it wasn’t flexible? And your Watches didn’t last an entire year without charging?

    • Franklin Richards

      “Grandpa? What’s a phone?”

      • mrgerbik

        “Well lad, its kinda like the embedded chip that was put behind your ear when you were a baby. You know, the one you can instantly let everyone know what you are doing and that tracks your every waking moment. In our day we didnt even Need a phone if we didnt want one.”

        “Lolz wowzers grandpa! You mean you could actually go somewhere or eat anything or talk smack and the intelligencia wouldnt know?? Cool!”

  • iPhoneWINS

    the home button his part of the iPhone iconic image

  • Franklin Richards

    I don’t know. I still prefer a big old button to unlock my phone. Maybe I’m old fashioned.

  • iBanks

    Cody and Jeff, considering this possibility, would you still reconsider leaving the 6s plus and go to the 6s? With the home button removed, that makes the device slightly shorter but easier to manage I would think. Thoughts?

    • The phone would be the exact same size with a larger screen.

      • Everett Clark Davis

        Moving from the iPhone 3G/3Gs to the iPhone 4/4s, the screen stayed the same size, but the device got smaller. I’d hope they’d do the same thing if they make a smaller bezel. Yet another resolution might not be great for developers, and 4.7′ and 5.5 inches is totally enough

      • This article states otherwise. Same size phone.

    • Shadowelite123

      IF the home button was removed, the screen would go full screen in my personal belief. I personally don’t think removing the home button would be a good idea. Unless they find a way to simulate or mimic the same Touch ID process that we have now using just the screen, then ok. But that would require either a clickable screen or some sort of hardware based pressing unless they change the hard boot process. That’s my view on it. Or they find a way for the screen to stay on at an extremely low power mode like the LG double tap to turn the screen on thing where they worked on every part of the software to help battery life.

  • My only gripe is even when the screen freezes and becomes unresponsive, hard reset always works. So I’ll always prefer a physical button over touch.

    • Golicza Alpár

      Lock+Volume Up for 15 sec=Hard reset. Solved 😀

      • John

        Not good if your jailbroken though. Seem to remember that boots the phone into safe mode so that would have to be changed by saurik but nice idea.

      • Shadowelite123

        Actually booting into safe mode is Power button and the volume down button.

      • Golicza Alpár

        That’s what I remembered too.

      • John

        Oh ok. My bad

  • Rick Hart

    With the button you don’t have to look to know which end is up

  • Fixability score zero!

  • Valinor

    It will take another 10 new iphones before Apple will think about implementing this. And then they will decide its to expensive and skip it.

  • urrl

    Maybe Apple will implement it someday. But with VirtualHome 8 jailbreak app I have it today.

  • therealjjohnson

    “For starters, it eliminates the expensive process of cutting a hole in the glass.”

    I laughed. Twice.

    • Shadowelite123

      Actually it’s legitimate info.

  • This Guy

    Fingerprint readers in every surface, everywhere. Nice. The future is looking great.

    Open doors with your clothed elbow, people. Been doing it that way for years.

  • Xee

    Awesome, been saying for years Apple should get rid of the home button as it wastes so much space. Now we can have full screen on the front.

    • Shadowelite123

      Get the home button offers some pretty useful uses that would be big trade offs unless Apple finds a way to implement a new way for those uses. That would require either a software rengineering or use of another button. But really there aren’t any others besides the volume buttons.

  • Peter

    I don’t like on screen home buttons but I think it would be cool if force touch was used for the home button so there wouldn’t be a button anymore and have a bigger screen without the “chin”.

  • George

    force touch is great and all but new technology is unpredictable. Apple making the new macbook trackpad force touch and now the iphone, like what if it completely fails?

  • Dante Arellano

    Should upgrade for i6s plus 12 mb camera and force touch? New chip will b the same of the iphone 7 1mg of ram

  • Maryanne Rich

    No. I imply that it shouldnt be a 30 step process to move information from the device to the SD card, and however perhaps not perform 75% of the time. Im not a phone developer, i dont require that whole mess of a UI, actually if it lets me cistomize my celebrities or whatever. I couldnt attention less. I would like my telephone to work correctly without 6 hours of tinkering.