Apple's New Patents: Apple Could Adopt Acoustic Fingerprint Imaging In Its Future Products, Similar To Touch ID

According to an AppleInsider report, the US Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple an acoustic fingerprint imaging technology patents, precision enough to replace the current Touch ID optical fingerprint sensor, bolstering rumors that the iPhone home button is not long for this world. 

U.S. Patent No. 9,747,488, entitled "Active sensing element for acoustic imaging systems," describes a method of collecting biometric data, in particular fingerprints, by means of ultrasonic transmission and detection techniques.

After processing, the collected fingerprint image can be used to verify the user identity, similar to the Touch ID working process. Unlike Apple's current fingerprint scanning hardware, acoustic imaging does not require an optical contact evaluation object, meaning that the ultrasonic sensor can be placed under an operating component - such as a display.

Apple in its invention notes said the traditional acoustic imaging system is suffering from a number of limitations. For example, driving piezoelectric components might have a higher demand for electrical energy. Apple estimates piezoelectric elements are driven by high voltage circuits ranging from 0 to 100 volts, while sensing is performed by low voltage circuits running at 0 to 3.3 volts.

We are not clear if Apple will adopt the invention in its future products. But earlier this year, there are rumors said that Apple or considered in iPhone 8's OLED screen to use the fingerprint sensor. in-screen Touch ID will eventually replace the iPhone iconic Home button, for the full screen to make more space. However, recently, some Apple insiders said Apple has a canceled plan to use in-screen Touch ID in the iPhone 8.

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