A newly published Apple patent application details yet another technology that points to the eventual return of Touch ID. This time, the patent specifically concerns OLED screens, and explains how the screens can be used to deliver a form of in-display fingerprint recognition on phones, laptops, and other mobile devices.
If Apple follows through with the technology, the company would use optical touch sensors that would be able to recognize individual users based on the “optical properties” of their fingerprint. The system would also be able to identify other objects or substances, including water. The OLEDs would emit light, which would interact with different objects in unique ways. The sensor would then be able to reach a conclusion based on the light that gets reflected back.
The optical light sensors would be able to use the same methods to determine whether or not the object is touching the screen, or simply hovering above it. That means that it could interpret certain actions even in the absence of physical contact. According to the patent application, the optical touch sensors could be combined with capacitive touch sensors to pinpoint the location of any interaction.
Of course, this is not the first time that an Apple patent has hinted at the return of Touch ID, or even the only concept that Apple is considering. The tech giant has already filed applications for an acoustic imaging system, an optical imaging array, and an optical sensor that can be placed under the screen of a mobile device. Any or all of those technologies could be used to deliver some form of in-display Touch ID.
It is not yet clear which ones will be prioritized in Apple’s consumer products, though reports indicate that the latter has already appeared in a new 16-inch MacBook Pro. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that some form of in-display Touch ID will come to the iPhone in 2021, though other reports have suggested that it could arrive as early as this year.
Source: Apple Insider