‘iPhone 8’ May Have Touch ID Built in its Display, Suggests Patent

A new Apple patent published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) titled “Capacitive fingerprint sensor including an electrostatic lens” hints that next year’s rumoured ‘iPhone 8’ may feature a capacitive fingerprint sensor embedded in its display, allowing Apple to finally ditch the home button for a “full-screen face”, AppleInsider is reporting.

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Apple is believed to be working on a “virtual home button” which presumably carries over the same features and functions as the physical Touch ID module seen in current generation iPhone and iPad devices. Today’s patent details new capacitive sensing technology that works through gaps in space, thereby allowing a future Touch ID module to sit behind iPhone’s display. 

Apple proposes the use of electrostatic lenses to reduce the gap between the contact surface where a user places their finger and the capacitive sensing array.

As explained by Apple, electric fields associated with particular points on a finger can be illustrated as a cones. From a contact surface, these cones spread out from their respective apices and commingle with each other, causing the blur mentioned above. Continuing forward with the example, electrostatic lenses are tuned to receive an unshaped cone and produce shaped versions that are subsequently spread across an array of sensing elements to achieve an accurate image of a user’s fingerprint

The document goes on to detail a host of possible system configurations, from single-pattern solutions to installations with multiple sensors. Most importantly, the patent covers a scenarios in which an electrostatic lens is used to refine blurring caused by interrupting internal components like displays.

Apple’s electrostatic lens patent, which was first filed for in September 2014, is however just one piece of a larger puzzle, as hiding a fingerprint sensor behind a handset screen would require numerous enhancements over existing technology.

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  • OJmorphineLobo

    Stop calling it iPhone 8. Every phone since the 3 has had an S version.

  • iverge

    How about stop calling it iPhone 7S or 8…. Apple might just go in a different direction with names being the iPhone’s 10yr anniversary.

  • FragilityG4

    Has Apple ever had an anniversary edition of any of their products?

  • Metromiller

    They also just launched a new home button for this iPhone 7, so I can’t see them introducing some brand new hardware to the iPhone and doing away with it in only a year. If the patent is just being filed now, I’d guess it’s two years away at best. Who knows… maybe they are right that it will be on the “iPhone 8,” but that won’t be next year’s model, I don’t believe. Maybe a 7S. I would anticipate a special anniversary colour or a throwback scheme of some kind, like the U2 edition iPod video… perhaps a special case instead. There’s my prediction for what it’s worth!

  • I’m curious as to how well the fingerprint scanner would work on a screen with cracks on it.
    I see so many iPhones and iPods with at least 5-6 cracks shooting across the screen of people on the bus, and they use it like everything is perfectly fine.

    That would drive me up the wall, but if fingerprint reading is below it, I would think the the screen would more easily malfunction if dropped and cracked.