Apple patent details virtual home button with embedded fingerprint sensor, expected in the iPhone 8


Rumors say that the 2017 iPhone will feature an edge-to-edge OLED display that covers the handset's entire front, eliminating the well familiar home button in favor of a virtual touch-sensitive key enabled by the smartphone's haptic engine.

A patent recently published by the USPTO reveals more technological details about the solution. The invention will introduce capacitive sensing technology that works through gaps in space, letting Apple embed a Touch ID fingerprint scanner behind the display. The solution also incorporates electrostatic lenses spread across an array of sensing elements that pick up an accurate reading of the user's fingerprint pattern. This is how Apple will be able to introduce a full screen face design to its next iPhone, assuming it actually plans to do so.

There are other inventions in the smartphone industry that would allow for a fingerprint scanner to be embedded behind the display. Qualcomm's Sense ID technology uses ultrasonic waves to capture a reading of the user's fingerprint through surfaces like glass, metal, and plastic. However, Apple practically wants to build a virtual replacement for the Home button and its navigation functionality, which means the company is more interested in developing its own technology, such as the one described in this patent.

source: USPTO
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