A new patent application recently filed by Apple describes an exciting possible future for the Cupertino company’s biometric Touch ID feature. According to AppleInsider, the new patent application describes how a fingerprint sensor might find itself built into the display of future Apple mobile devices.
The patent for “Fingerprint Sensor in an Electronic Device”, will allow for fingerprints to be captured from designated areas on a touch screen. Eventually, AppleInsider projects that this technology could lead to dynamic fingerprint capture and authentication, allowing for biometrics to be scanned anywhere on an iPhone or iPad touch screen. Going further, multi-touch fingerprint scanning is not a huge leap of the imagination from there.
In its current state as a home button touch sensor, Touch ID has gone a long way in encouraging consumer adoption of biometrics. Upon the launch of the latest iPhone models to feature the sensor, Apple sold over 10 million biometric smartphones in a single weekend. That’s 10 million consumers with biometric mobile devices that have the ability to authenticate payment transactions with Apple Pay – the company’s mobile wallet.
Moving the fingerprint sensor into the touch screen will allow for greater customization in terms of how third party developers integrate Touch ID into apps, but in terms of security it remains to be seen whether or not critics will be satisfied with the next generation of biometric iPhones. Apple drew criticism last fall when the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sensors were spoofed using the same method that publicly broke into the iPhone 5S a year prior by a high profile hacker group.
If Apple does in fact pursue multi-touch fingerprint scanning, this will go a long way in bolstering the biometric security on future iPhones. Even requiring two fingerprints to be scanned will greatly improve the level of security boasted by Apple’s products.
The idea of a fingerprint scanning touch screen is not entirely new. AppleInsider notes that Authentec, the biometrics company Apple acquired in 2012 responsible for Touch ID, has invested significant research into the possibility of such technology, and larger, non-mobile versions of similar technology have been built too.