Thursday, July 18, 2013

Apple Granted Fingerprint Sensing Technology Patent (Concept)

Apple was recently granted a patent for a fingerprint scanning technology which has long been rumored to be a feature of the upcoming iPhone after Apple acquired AuthenTec. Most predictions prior to this patent imagined an iPhone with some sort of fingerprint sensor placed beneath the home button to add more security, similar to the finger print scanners that ship on some laptop models.

HP laptop with a fingerprint scanner which requires the user to swipe their
finger on it to identify a match
However, in the patent, (to put into simplest terms) Apple describes a method where the actual circuit that senses your fingerprint can be separated from the sensor itself and embedded into the display, thus allowing the user to unlock their device like usual, on-screen with all of the added security! 
Apple's Patent
Credit: Apple/USPTO

My Take On It 

Now, how cool would this be if it was implemented on the next iPhone! You can easily unlock your phone without the need for a pass-code yet still have the peace of mind that only you can get into your phone. Of course, I imagine unlocking would be very similar to how iOS 7 unlocks right now and as of people not recognized by the phone, this is how it could look:

However, you obviously wouldn't want to be locked out of your phone just because the phone is having a problem recognizing your own fingerprints which is why button at the bottom left appears after a failed attempt which will simply bring up the pass-code input screen (optional to the user) and of course if it really isn't you, the iPhone would lockout for a limited time as usual. Also, access to Notification Center and Control Center can be disabled if the users fingerprint does not match the owner (same bouncing animation when trying to access either one) and as always, camera access is very limited and the user cannot view the camera roll without unlocking the phone.

This can also have some very cool applications outside of just unlocking an iPhone, for example: Siri can identify who is using the phone and limit access when triggered from the lockscreen. (It can also know when to call you by name, just a little bonus.)

Even though this may sounds very exciting, remember this is only a patent and not all patents make it to future devices and even if they do, it might not happen just yet, but when and if does, expect to see it everywhere on Apple hardware, from iPhones to Macs to the rumored "iWatch."