Various industry reports suggest that Apple is going all-in on facial recognition, but a newly published patent filing suggests that the company hasn’t entirely given up on fingerprint recognition.
Essentially, the patent outlines a system that would use one or more light sources to image a user’s fingerprint. Because the light sources would clarify the ridges within the fingerprint, the system would allow for calculations of depth, and therefore the construction of a three-dimensional fingerprint image.
Importantly, this system would be able to operate under the display of a given device, with Apple’s patent depicting finger positioned for scanning in the middle of a large-screen iPhone or iPad-style device. Apple was long thought to be exploring in-display technology ahead of the iPhone X’s launch last year, though the company has always denied that it was interested in any kind of biometric authentication for the device other than its Face ID facial recognition system.
Perhaps even more importantly, as Patently Apple notes, this patent was filed in January, well after the iPhone X was launched. Apple’s patent filings are never a solid indicator of what’s actually in the pipeline in terms of its products and services, but the fact that the company went to the trouble of filing the patent after it has purportedly committed fully to Face ID authentication suggests that it’s still considering additional biometric security mechanisms, or an in-display system that could be used on more budget-friendly devices that can’t support expensive Face ID components.
Source: Patently Apple