On Tuesday, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a patent filed by Apple, which describes a display doubling up as a fingerprint scanner. The Patent No. 9,570,002 is titled “Interactive display panel with IR diodes.” The upcoming iPhone 8 is rumored to kill the physical home button and embed the fingerprint scanner in the display.

The technology comes from Apple’s acquisition of LuxVue

The original patent was filed by LuxVue, which specializes in highly efficient micro-LED displays. Apple acquired LuxVue in 2014, and the said patent was reassigned to the Cupertino company in April last year. The new technology is capable of reading your fingerprints without a dedicated sensor within or under the display. It involves the use of embedded micro-LEDs in an active matrix display to emit light, and an IR diode to sense light.

A bitmap consisting of the light intensity data produced by “bouncing IR light off of a user’s finger and back to sensing diodes” could then authenticate the fingerprint. The illustrations below show how the IR diode sees a finger and then authenticates it. LuxVue’s technology could also be used to replace some other sensors such as the proximity sensor and ambient light sensor on the front side of the iPhone 8.

iPhone 8 Fingperint Sensor Patent
Image Source: Apple Inc / USPTO (screenshot)
Fingperint
Image Source: Apple Inc. / USPTO (screenshot)

It works even when the screen is off

According to the patent description, it can scan a fingerprint even when the screen is off, which would help reduce the battery consumption. The new micro-LED touchscreens have an interactive pixels subpixel arrangement consisting of red, green, blue, IR emitting, and IR sensing (RGBIRSIR). The current Touch ID fingerprint sensor requires the user’s finger to be in contact with a “capacitive drive ring” around the home button.

The iPhone 8 would have an edge-to-edge OLED display, getting rid of the physical home button. A touchscreen that can serve as an input device as well as a fingerprint scanner would save space, making room for new features. Apple will also be launching two other phones this year, but they will be only iterative upgrades to the current iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Only iPhone 8 to have a reinforced glass chassis

Taiwanese publication DigiTimes has learned from the “upstream supply chain” sources that the iPhone 8 would have a glass casing reinforced by a stainless steel frame. In contrast, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will stick to the aluminum alloy chassis and LCD screen, though they would feature internal upgrades such as an improved processor.

The iPhone 8 with a edge-to-edge display, wireless charging, a glass-sandwich design, and augmented reality support could cost more than $1,000. Latest reports claim that the 10th anniversary iPhone would pack a huge 2,700mAh battery even though the phone’s dimensions would be similar to the 4.7-inch iPhone 7.