Feeds

Apple patents touch display that KNOWS YOU by your fingers

Next iPhone to have fingerprint scanner under screen?

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Apple's next iPhone is widely rumored to include a fingerprint sensor, but if Cupertino's latest patent filing is any indication, it may be a sensor unlike anything we've seen before.

Apple's filing goes by the tongue-twisting title "Finger sensor having pixel sensing circuitry for coupling electrodes and pixel sensing traces and related methods," but what it describes is actually a straightforward idea.

Instead of a standalone fingerprint sensor, like the ones you find on many laptops today, Apple has come up with a way to insert the sensor as an additional layer in a touchscreen display, so that the display itself becomes a fingerprint reader.

That might sound like an obvious development, but according to the patent application, actually making it work isn't easy.

As the filing explains, many current fingerprint readers place the finger sensor region directly over the integrated circuit that scans the fingerprint. It's possible to separate the two, particularly with a lower quality sensor, but the matter becomes more complicated when dealing with devices like smartphones.

"The lower quality fingerprint sensor is typically unable to capture fingerprint images through a relatively thick protective cover used over the display regions of portable electronic devices," the filing notes. "Thus, the images that are captured are more noisy and lower quality, which may lead to unacceptable biometric performance."

Illustrations from Apple's fingerprint-reader patent application

Touch and go: Apple's patent could let you login without swiping a separate fingerprint scanner

That last part – "biometric performance" – means being able to tell one fingerprint from another, which is pretty much the whole point of fingerprint sensing to begin with.

Apple's invention involves a new way of layering a transparent substrate – which, the filing observes, might be made of something like indium tin oxide – into the touchscreen display, such that the display can function as a high quality fingerprint scanner while keeping the scanning circuitry separate from the sensor area.

By the way, when we say "Apple's invention," we probably really mean AuthenTec's invention. Apple snapped up AuthenTec, an industry leader in fingerprint identification technology, for $350m in 2012.

Speculation as to just what Cupertino intends to do with AuthenTec's tech has run rampant since then, but the best guess has been that Apple plans to integrate fingerprint readers into iPhones, iPads, and Macs, both to secure content on the devices and to facilitate applications like mobile payments.

Other companies offer biometric technology for smartphones – Validity is one, and Apple's dreaded rival Samsung applied for a fingerprint-sensing patent in May. But if Apple can bring its finger-sensing screen technology to market this year, it could be the only player on the market whose biometric scanning UI is as simple and obvious as reaching out and touching the screen. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen
Fat-fingered fanbois rejoice over Chinternet snaps
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
True optical zoom coming to HTC smartphone cameras
Time to ditch that heavy DSLR? Maybe in a year, year and a half
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Leaked photos may indicate slimmer next-generation iPad
Will iPad Air evolve into iPad Helium?
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.