The USPTO published a patent application attributed to Apple based on work done by AuthenTec’s co-founder: it’s for a secure fingerprint sensor that can be embedded into a mobile display.

fingerprint secret
photo: Thinkstock

Apple has stayed quiet — as usual — on what it’s been up to with AuthenTec since it acquired the mobile security company a year ago. But a patent filing offers some insight into what the two are partnering on: fingerprint sensors that can be embedded into displays.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published a patent application attributed to Apple based on work done by AuthenTec’s co-founder, as noted by AppleInsider this morning. The patent is is for a chip that can be embedded in a mobile device that will sense fingerprints on a display as a way of authenticating a user before giving them access to a device.

Apple’s patent sounds like it will allow the chip to be inserted in the device, but gives Apple’s device engineers more room to work with than traditional biometric security solutions. From the application:

When using a semiconductor fingerprint sensor, or integrated circuit fingerprint sensor, in a portable electronic device, for example, a mobile telephone, it may be desirable to locate the integrated circuit of the fingerprint sensor separately from the finger sensing region. Separating the finger sensing integrated circuit (IC) from the finger sensing area may be particularly advantageous when the finger sensing area is relatively thin and transparent so that it may be placed over the top of a display of the portable electronic device, and wherein the IC may be located in a nearby non-display region of the portable electronic device.

There’s been a lot of speculation that the next iPhone will have a fingerprint-sensing security feature. Much of that has been assuming the sensor would be under the home button. But being able to put it in a display could mean iOS’s traditional “swipe to unlock” could seamlessly include another layer of security — for an iPhone, an iPad, the touchpad of a MacBook — or possibly even a future wearable device.

Of course, there’s the standard caveat for any Apple patent filing: the company files a lot of patents and it doesn’t necessarily mean the technology will make its way to Apple product some day. But in this case, it’s the first patent application to come out of Apple’s purchase of AuthenTec. We know the two companies were working on a project together even before the acquisition, and this is a good indication of the direction the two are going in.

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  1. The notion that I will be giving the NSA my fingerprints every time I use my iPhone is super awesome!

    1. yes because your phone PIN is transmitted over the wire every time you open your phone …

    2. Alvaro Azcona Ed Saturday, July 20, 2013

      True and funny lol

  2. Sounds like my iPhone 5 is my last phone I’ll be buying from Apple. Location tracking, voice pattern recognition, NSA spying, now fingerprinting….

    1. You do realize that your phone is constantly recording what you say and do, even though it doesn’t look like the video camera or the mic is on. In fact, they’re recording things you do, even when you think your iphone is turned off. So you better keep wearing your tin foil helmet.

      I’m joking of course, you can turn off location tracking and all of that stuff. But, if you’re so paranoid and/ or feel as if you have something to hide, then I’d suggest wearing a mask in public and only paying with cash.

  3. Chris Saunders Thursday, July 18, 2013

    Reblogged this on Words About Technology and commented:
    Imagine with a fingerprint scanner under the screen – rather than using a code or swipe, have your fingerprint scanned to unlock. Nifty!

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  7. Krishna Parmar Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Apple’s patent sounds like it will allow the chip to be inserted in the device, but gives Apple’s device engineers more room to work with than traditional biometric security solutions.


  8. Cheaters all over the world rejoice! Sorry hunny you don’t have my thumb. Whores text and call away. Weeee

  9. Just another way to help keep tabs on people. Who knows what they will be using this data for and who they will sell it too.


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