One of the big new features in the upcoming iPhone 5S, Apple’s next generation smartphone, is expected to be a built-in fingerprint sensor. To be fair, we’ve yet to see any evidence of this, but reports have been consistent over past 6 months.
Up until now, most folks have presumed that if Apple were to outfit its handset with such a sensor, that it would build it into the Home button. But according to a new patent filing from the company, it could build it right into the display…
AppleInsider has discovered a new patent application from Apple regarding in-display fingerprint sensor tech. The app was first filed back in January of this year, but was just published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this morning.
“Apple’s sensor patent details a technology that can not only fit into a mobile device like an iPhone, but can “read” biometric characteristics of a finger from distances larger than existing methods afford…
…The patent language notes the fingerprint sensor can be stacked with, or part of, an LCD display. As such, the sensor can also be used as a means of input, and can also be used in conjunction with other circuitry to support selection function, provide tactile feedback, or power up a device. Of note, the document points out that the sensor array can be either rigid or flexible, meaning mounting options are vast.”
Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the app, which is titled “Finger sensor having pixel sensing circuitry for coupling electrodes and pixel sensing traces and related methods,” credits AuthenTec co-founder Dale R. Setlak as its inventor.
Remember, Apple purchased AuthenTec, an expert in NFC, smart and fingerprint sensors, last summer for a cool $356 million. And this is, as AppleInsider notes, one of the first patent applications with tech from the company assigned to it.
Also interesting is the fact that Setlak’s LinkedIn profile shows that he is now an engineer for the company at its offices in Melbourne, Florida. In April, Apple was looking for a software engineer for this office to help with ‘hardware integration.’
As we mentioned on this week’s Let’s Talk Jailbreak, we have our fingers crossed that this year’s iPhone features a fingerprint sensor. We don’t care how they do it, we just hope they do it. The handset is expected to launch sometime this fall.