Apple has filed a patent indicating that it’s developing technology to embed biometric sensors into its mobile devices. Called “Concealed electrical connectors”, the patent application describes methods of allowing, for example, a fingerprint scanner to be built into the Apple logo that appears on all iPhones.
The patent depicts some designs in which electrically conductive materials are hidden under the Apple logo (or other such details on the hardware chassis), while other designs show how the materials could be embedded into the logo. But the bottom line is that the technology would let the logo itself act as a sensor, incorporating, for example, the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, or skin conductivity sensors that could have health- and fitness-tracking applications. Theoretically the same technology could allow for contact charging systems to be embedded in this way, but the patent doesn’t detail that application specifically.
While Apple is undoubtedly interested in incorporating biometric sensors into its mobile devices, the goal with this patent seems mostly to free up screen space by eliminating the need for fingerprint scanners and other such hardware to be built into the face of a mobile device. Given the popularity of large screens, Apple seems particularly focused on this area, and in fact it was only last week that Apple filed another patent application detailing technology that would allow for fingerprint sensor technology to be built into the touchscreen itself, again freeing up more chassis space for a bigger screen.
Whether or not any devices implementing these technologies are currently in development remains a mystery, but these patents clearly indicate the direction in which Apple hopes to proceed with its future mobile devices.