With the iPhone 8 expected to embed a fingerprint sensor into the display to allow much smaller top and bottom bezels, there’s no doubt that Apple has the technology required to make this possible. We’ve seen a steady stream of patents describing different ways to achieve this.
One of the technologies Apple has explored is ultrasonic imaging. A previous patent described this as ‘the most accurate but least common finger-scanning technology,’ and a further patent describing this approach has been granted today.
Apple says that ultrasonic imaging avoids two common problems experienced with other fingerprint sensors, including its existing form of Touch ID.
Contaminants such as grease, lotion, dirt, sweat, and food particles on a finger can degrade a captured fingerprint image, which can prevent a fingerprint sensing device from matching the captured fingerprint image to a known fingerprint image. Alternatively, a finger contacting an input surface of the fingerprint sensing device with too much or too little pressure can reduce the quality of the captured fingerprint image and prevent the fingerprint sensing device from recognizing the user.
The patent notes that this technology could be used to provide more accurate readings both when embedded into a display, and when used with a conventional Touch ID style sensor.
As we get ever closer to production of the new iPhone, we’ve been hearing an increasing number of reports, with a flurry of these supporting an expectation of a near-bezel-free OLED display with embedded fingerprint sensor, wireless charging and some form of augmented reality. Analysts are all predicting a ‘super cycle,’ aka a large increase in sales as the new design and features see many more iPhone owners upgrade from older models.