A new patent application from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) provides further evidence that the iPhone maker is exploring the development of a fingerprint sensor that could be utilized in future mobile devices. The patent describes a previously unseen fingerprint sensor method in which the sensor is actually embedded in the touchscreen display, reports Apple Insider.
The patent is titled, “Finger sensor having pixel sensing circuitry for coupling electrodes and pixel sensing traces and related methods,” and it describes a method for reading a user’s fingerprint through the touchscreen display by using “pixels, pixel sensing traces,” and “electrodes overlying the pixel sensing traces.” Apple Insider notes that this patent is credited to AuthenTec co-founder Dale R. Setlak.
Apple has been rumored to be developing a fingerprint sensor for the next generation of iPhones ever since it bought AuthenTec, a mobile and network security company, last year. Although AuthenTec specializes in many types of embedded security solution technologies, Apple seemed primarily interested in AuthenTec’s patent for a fingerprint sensor technology.
Most of the previous rumors have suggested that Apple would utilize a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button. Last month, a leaked image of a transparent Apple symbol iPhone 5S home button seemed to confirm these rumors.
However, this latest patent indicates that Apple may simply incorporate the fingerprint sensor directly into a mobile device’s display. According to the patent, when the fingerprint sensor is not in use, the “fingerprint sensing region” can still function as a “normal part of the touch sensing user input area.” In other words, the overall screen estate will not be reduced by the incorporation of this fingerprint sensor.
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