Rumored iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor more likely to be in the screen, not the home button

Credit: Apple/USPTO

Credit: Apple/USPTO

An Apple patent published today suggests that the long-rumored fingerprint sensor for the iPhone 5S may be built into the phone’s screen, rather than the home button, as had been previously suggested (via CNET).

A fingerprint sensor has been one of the two most persistent rumors for a distinguishing feature for the 5S, the other being NFC. A combination of the two as has been recently suggested – using a fingerprint to verify purchases as well as unlock the device – would certainly be a killer feature, though it’s worth noting that Apple isn’t generally an early adopter of new technologies like cardless payments. Fingerprint sensors themselves are a mature tech, with rumors of iPhone inclusion dating back to Apple’s acquisition of mobile security specialists AuthenTec last year …

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iWatch’s novelty emerges as Apple taps sensor and fitness experts

Apple’s Tim Cook, Bob Mansfield, Kevin Lynch

Apple’s Tim Cook, Bob Mansfield, Kevin Lynch

Apple has begun assembling a team of hardware and software engineering, medical sensor, manufacturing, and fitness experts, indicating the company is moving forward with a project to build a fitness-oriented, sensor-laden wearable computer, according to our sources.

Over the past half-decade-or-so, Apple has experimented with and shelved numerous wearable computer designs. Internal prototypes have included designs that could clip onto different pieces of clothing (like an iPod shuffle/nano) in addition to devices that could wrap around a wrist.

Based on comments from Apple CEO Tim Cook and numerous reports, the wrist is the part of the body in which top Apple executives are currently targeting…

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Digitimes: Initial ‘iPhone 5S’ shipments to be constrained as fingerprint sensors hit low yield-rates

Digitimes, which is notorious for its mixed track record, is out with a new report claiming that initial shipments of Apple’s next-generation iPhone will be in tight supply. The reason being low yield rates for the production of the sensor for the device’s rumored fingerprint scanning technology. That’s in addition to some chips required to power the new iPhone’s LCD.

Poor yields of fingerprint-recognition chips and LCD driver ICs will likely force Apple to reduce first-quarter shipments of the rumored iPhone 5S, which is slated for launch in September 2013, according to industry sources. Volume production of fingerprint-recognition and LCD driver chips for the iPhone 5S should have started at the end of June or early in July, but issues related to yield rates will delay commercial production of the two chips to the end of July, therefore affecting the initial supply of the iPhone 5S, the sources explained.

Furthermore, the site says that production of said device’s sensors should have begun late last month or earlier this month, but production won’t actually begin until later this month. This in turn will affect initial shipments of the new iPhone come September. Digitimes says this will result in 3 million delayed units…

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Apple patent application describes fingerprint sensor tech rumored for iPhone 5S

Apple-patent-fingerprint-sensor

There have been no shortage of fingerprint sensor rumors surfacing since Apple acquired Authentec last year. According to several reports from analysts, including the often reliable Ming-Chi Kuo and the not as reliable Topeka Capital analyst Brian White, Apple’s next-generation iPhone is likely to include a fingerprint sensor. We’ve discussed how it could certainly make a stand out hardware feature for Apple’s expected “S” upgrade, and today the US Patent and Trademark Office published patent applications that show Apple could be experimenting with exactly that (via PatentlyApple).

According to one aspect of the present disclosure, a biometric sensor assembly, such as a fingerprint sensor, comprises a substrate to which is mounted a die containing sensor circuitry and at least one conductive bezel. As used in the description and claims that follow, “bezel” means a unitary, substantially uniformly composed structure, most typically metal or conductive plastic. The die and the bezel are encased in a unitary encapsulation structure to protect those elements from mechanical, electrical, and environmental damage, yet with a portion of a surface of the die and the bezel exposed or at most thinly covered by the encapsulation or other coating material structure

Validity-Fingerprint-sensorThe patent describes a process of embedding a fingerprint sensor into the bezel of a device, which sounds a lot like the finger print sensors Validity was showing off embedded in Android devices at CES this year (pictured right). Apple notes in the patent application that the sensor would be “approximately the width of an average user’s fingertip, but only several pixels tall, typically between 1 and 8 pixels, and possibly as many as 16 pixels tall” when viewed from above.

Apple doesn’t get too into what functions for users the fingerprint sensor would provide, but does note that “the sensor captures a number of thin strips of the fingerprint as the finger is swiped, and the complete fingerprint is assembled in software for use in authentication.” Read more

‘iPhone 5S’, cheaper iPhone to come in multiple new colors, July announcement?

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 5.49.27 PM

According to Macotakara, new colors will be one of the more visible features of Apple’s next-generation iPhone models. According to a new report from the Japanese website, Apple’s iPhone 5 successor, already dubbed by some as the “iPhone 5S,” will come in three additional colors on top of the already existing black/slate and white/silver designs found on the iPhone 5.

It seems that it will have gossiped if the 5-color lineup of low-priced edition iPhone is carried out until now, but iPhone 5S may be 3 colors added to 2 colors of iPhone 5 1 color somehow. However, the informed sources did not tell about the kind of detailed color.

The site also claims that Apple’s already-rumored cheaper iPhone will come in five colors, but the report does not specify if this is five colors in addition to the black and white models or including the black and white options. Multiple analyst reports have previously claimed that Apple’s next iPhones will likely come in new colors.

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Apple hiring software engineers to work on fingerprint tech at Authentec’s Melbourne Design Center?

Fingerprint-scannerA new job listing on Apple.com could add fire to the rumors that Apple is considering including fingerprint technology in upcoming devices.

The job posting seeking a software engineer to write “low-level code to configure and control hardware” is the only listing on Apple’s site located at the “Melbourne Design Center” in Melbourne, Florida. Not only is the position looking for someone familiar with testing various sensors with LabTool and FA software, but Melbourne is also the home base of Authentec, the company Apple acquired fingerprint technology from last year for around $365 million.  Read more

Analyst: Apple HDTV coming this year with ‘iRing’ motion controller & ‘mini iTV’ second screen experience

iring2-concept

iRing concept by Victor Soto (via YankoDesign)

We’ve seen predictions for an Apple HDTV and a revamped Apple TV experience come and go over the last couple of years. Analysts have predicted several times since as far back as 2011 that we’d see Apple introduce its own full-fledged TV set by the end of the year, and the most vocal analyst, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, was still calling for a full HDTV by the end of the year with an innovative new remote control last we checked in. Today, in a note that sounds like it should have been scheduled for an April 1 release, another analyst has backed Munster’s claims that Apple will launch a full TV set (not a set-top box) in the second half of 2013.

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White issued a note to clients today, following checks with supply chain sources in Asia (via BGR), claiming Apple’s “iTV” project will launch this year in 50- to 60-inch variants and come with a ring-shaped motion controller dubbed, get this, “iRing”:

The “iTV” ecosystem represents a major innovation for the $100 billion LCD TV industry that will revolutionize the TV experience forever, in our view. First of all, we believe “iTV” will be 60-inches in size (but could also include 50-55 inch options). Secondly, we believe Apple will release a miniature device called “iRing” that will be placed on a user’s finger and act as a navigation pointer for “iTV”, enhancing the motion detection experience and negating some of the functionality found in a remote.

White continued by saying Apple will include a “mini iTV” with iTV that will allow users to have a second-screen experience on a smaller, iPad-sized display: Read more

Apple’s AuthenTec sells off embedded security solutions division, keeps the fingerprint & NFC tech

In July, a 10K filing showed that Apple acquired security company AuthenTec for $356 million. At the time, we noted Apple was presumably after the company’s various fingerprint-related technologies, while companies such as Samsung, Motorola, and others entered in deals with AuthenTec for its secure VPNs, encryption algorithms, and security-related products. Today, NFCWorld (via TechCrunch) reported Authentec has now sold its embedded security solutions division to NFC company Inside Secure. The sale would seem to indicate that Apple was indeed specifically after the company’s fingerprint and NFC solutions:

The sale suggests that Apple’s interest in acquiring Authentec lies with the company’s innovative combined fingerprint and NFC solution, which is not part of the division being acquired by Inside Secure, and will lead to renewed speculation that Apple will include NFC in future iPhones and other devices…. NFC and contactless chip provider Inside Secure is to acquire the embedded security systems division of Authentec, the fingerprint and secure solutions specialist which Apple agreed to buy for US$356m in July 2012. The transaction is valued at up to US$48m.

To get a hold of AuthenTec’s Embedded Security Solutions Division, Inside Secure will reportedly pay $38 million in cash and another $10 million “subject to completion of certain post-closing transactions.” Products the division is responsible for are currently used in hundreds of millions of mobile and networking devices worldwide, with customers ranging from Samsung, Nokia, LG, and Motorola to HBO, Cisco, and Texas Instruments. Last year, the division brought in sales of $25.3 million. Read more