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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple is refining its as yet unused under-display fingerprint scanning technology, seemingly ahead of bringing Touch ID back to the iPhone, according to a newly-published patent application.

iPhone-12-Touch-ID-Feature-Img.jpg


The patent application, first spotted by Patently Apple and filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is titled "Under-display fingerprint sensing based on off-axis angular light" and explains how an under-display fingerprint scanner can be made more accurate and reliable. Apple describes its technology as an "enhanced under-display fingerprint sensing" system that, unlike many other existing under-display fingerprint scanners used on Android devices, uses "off-axis angular light" to read fingerprints more effectively without increasing the size of the components.

Most optical under-display fingerprint scanning systems use light emitted from the device's display to illuminate the fingertip of the user, which is reflected off of the fingerprint and back through tiny openings between the display pixels. A sensor beneath the display can then read the fingerprint and authenticate the user.

Due to the "low-light throughput and diffraction" caused by the display stack, the fingerprint image is liable to suffer from low contrast and low signal-to-noise ratio, making it harder to read the fingerprint and potentially increasing the time it takes to authenticate a user.

To overcome this problem, Apple proposes a system in which the off-axis angular light from the finger is captured via a series of "angle-dependent filtering options between the display and the sensor." This method can "improve the contrast of fingerprint impressions and maintain the compactness of the entire sensing system," according to Apple.

off-axis-under-display-fingerprint-scanner-patent.jpg


Specifically, Apple's system includes "a light-emitting layer covered by a transparent layer and configured to illuminate a surface touching the transparent layer and to allow transmission of reflected light rays from the surface to underlying layers." An optical coupling layer below the display "bends the reflected light rays" that are then received by a collimator layer and interpreted by a pixelated image sensor.

The examples listed in the patent note focus on OLED being the display technology of choice for the system, which is the current display technology used on the entire iPhone 12 lineup. Apple has been long-rumored to bring under-display Touch ID to the iPhone, so the patent application may indicate that progress on the technology is advancing behind the scenes.

Apple is said to be planning to implement a fingerprint scanner under the display of at least one high-end iPhone in 2023, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, but Barclays analysts have recently suggested that the feature will "likely" arrive as soon as this year on the iPhone 13.

Article Link: Apple Developing 'Enhanced' Under-Display Touch ID System
 

azentropy

macrumors 68030
Jul 19, 2002
2,893
2,419
Surprise
Mentioned it before, but one of the reasons I prefer TouchID over FaceID was because it was on a button you could feel it as you picked up the phone and could unlock it long before it ever needed to see your face (or choose not to). I'm curious to how Apple is going to address this or I can see a possible issue of it unlocking the phone when you really don't want it to. If like FaceID it still requires you to swipe up then that defeats why I like it better in the first place.
 

Aaargh!

macrumors member
Mar 21, 2007
96
54
I would love it if it worked on the full display, and was on all the time. Use FaceID to unlock the device (as it's more secure than TouchID) and then use TouchID to authenticate every single touch on the screen. So that even if someone grabbed your unlocked phone from your hand, they would only be able to see what is on the screen at that time, but not be able to interact with it in any way.
 

yaxomoxay

macrumors demi-god
Mar 3, 2010
6,257
31,742
Texas
Mentioned it before, but one of the reasons I prefer TouchID over FaceID was because it was on a button you could feel it as you picked up the phone and could unlock it long before it ever needed to see your face (or choose not to). I'm curious to how Apple is going to address this or I can see a possible issue of it unlocking the phone when you really don't want it to. If like FaceID it still requires you to swipe up then that defeats why I like it better in the first place.

They might just have a phone with both and leave the user the choice between either one or the combination of both.
 
Last edited:

reyesmac

macrumors 6502a
Jul 17, 2002
598
242
Central Texas
If Apple doesn't improve on an already existing technology it can't patent it and would have to pay someone else to use it. So every single one of Apples features will have some sort of enhancement in them.
As long as you don't need an absolutely clean surface to use it and can have screen protectors on it then good for them.
 
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Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
22,792
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Mentioned it before, but one of the reasons I prefer TouchID over FaceID was because it was on a button you could feel it as you picked up the phone and could unlock it long before it ever needed to see your face (or choose not to). I'm curious to how Apple is going to address this or I can see a possible issue of it unlocking the phone when you really don't want it to. If like FaceID it still requires you to swipe up then that defeats why I like it better in the first place.
I’m curious where Apple will go here. Is it going to be optional where you can choose to use Face ID or Touch ID? That seems un-Apple like. Normally Apple decides what they think the best solution is and implements it. Or are they going to pitch it as another layer of security where you’d use both?
 
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