Apple gets a patent for an under-display Touch ID fingerprint sensor

There may be some substance to the rumor calling for an iPhone with an under-display Touch ID in 2020 as the Cupertino tech giant just won a patent for an optical imaging sensor that could be used for under-display biometrics in future iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch and more.

PatentlyApple discovered that the US Patent and Trademark Office has officially granted Apple the patent today, based on the company’s March 2019 patent application for this technology.

If Apple decides to leverage this patent in upcoming products, expect a next-generation Touch ID based on under-display optical imaging sensors to be used in a variety of devices, including Apple Watch. In fact, the company is already leveraging this technology in the new 16-inch MacBook Pro which uses an optical imaging sensor for Touch ID.

The invention is credited to three Apple engineers: Giovanni Gozzini, Moe (Mohammad) Yeke Yazdandoost and Dale Setlak, who came to Apple as a co-founder of Israeli smart sensor startup Authentec that Apple snapped up back in 2013, paving the way for Touch ID.

In September 2019, Bloomberg reported that the iPhone maker was testing in-display technology at the time with the goal of implementing an under-display Touch ID in an iPhone as early as next year. Revered Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also stated in the past that there are expectations for Apple to reintroduce Touch ID into the primary iPhone lineup in 2021.

And earlier this month, we pointed to a pair of reports from ET News claiming the Cupertino tech giant might use new sensor technology developed by Qualcomm to bring back Touch ID as an under-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner in a 2020 iPhone.

Android vendors have been slow to copy Apple’s Face ID biometric system so even the latest Android phones continue to rely on ultrasonic sensors, like Samsung’s latest Galaxy S10 and Note 10. Even though Face ID-enabled iPhones have been a reality for more than two years now, it would seem that Apple continued working on both technologies, Face ID and Touch ID.

According to the latest chatter from the rumor-mill, Apple supplier GIS had already co-developed the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner with Qualcomm, based on Apple’s strict specifications. Whether or not the company will ultimately choose to use that technology in future iPhones to replace or augment Face ID remains to be seen.