Yet another patent filing from Apple is helping to build the case that the company is working on an in-display version of its Touch ID authentication system – and possibly in-display Face ID.
As AppleInsider reports, the newly-revealed patent – originally filed at the end of 2018 – details a potential system in which one or more optical sensors are embedded under a device’s display. In broad terms, it’s similar to other patent filings by the company in recent years that detailed how a sensor embedded under a display could be used to scan a fingerprint.
But the new filing is notable for language that extends the concept beyond fingerprint recognition. The patent explains that the sensor could be used to determine whether a user is close to or looking at the device, and that the sensor could capture both 2D and 3D images.
“In some cases, the 2D or 3D image may be an image of a fingerprint, a face, or a scene in a field of view (FoV),” the patent states. That would seem to open the door to in-display face scanning via Apple’s Face ID system, and to a range of other imaging options more broadly.
The key advantage to embedding all of this imaging functionality in the device display is that it opens up more real estate on the surface of the device. An iPhone that can capture fingerprints, faces, and other images wouldn’t need a home button to house Touch ID, nor would it need a notch for the camera that intrudes into the screen.
That having been said, it isn’t clear that this particular patent’s system would enable the particularly sophisticated kind of face scanning performed by the current iteration of Face ID, which makes use of intricate laser technology to create 3D maps of end users’ faces. And, as with any patent filing from Apple, there is no guarantee that the technology detailed here will ever be realized in an actual device.
At the very least, though, it helps to further illuminate the serious R&D effort that Apple has been putting into in-display sensor technologies.