Apple plans next-generation biometric scanners for Touch ID subscreen

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New patent filing for screen photodetectors potentially envisaged for portable devices, devices

A new Apple patent application signals that the company’s focus on biometric photodetector technology for under-screen touch identification can be deployed on its devices, reports Patently Apple. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued a patent filing for devices that may consist of one or more photodetectors.

The filing is the latest in a series of patents related to smartphone biometrics by the company.

The sensors described in the latest application can include biometric sensors, depth sensors and cameras. Other specs describe this technology as embedded below the display area, hinting at its potential future integration into the iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad. Beyond these uses, the sensors could also be deployed on IoT devices such as home appliances, thermostats and refrigerators.

The uses listed by Apple for photodetectors include security, health monitoring, and entertainment. Arrays of these photodetectors can be deployed to scan fingerprints, palm prints, 3D faces, or ocular biometric data. This, along with their possible placement below the display, suggests that photodetectors could be used for biometric identification and authentication of users.

The deposit refers to biometric information extracted by electromagnetic radiation, as a capacitive system. In this process, photodetectors emit electromagnetic radiation against an object such as a finger, face, or stylus. Once reflected by the object, this radiation returns a backscatter which then passes back through the screen to record the information of the object. The document also refers to the possibility of using optical, ultrasonic, thermal or other detection technologies within the system.

In addition to this, the photodetectors are also capable of obtaining ophthalmic scans, ECGs and pulses for health monitoring. Other uses of scanners include scanning the palm for social correspondence and social networking.

Apple Expands Health Surveillance With New Patent Filings

Three other new patent filings show Apple’s research and development in health metrics monitoring technology, including sleep analysis, blood sugar monitoring, and augmented reality / virtual reality (AR / VR), writes All About Circuits. More specifically, the three patent applications describe infrared transceivers for object recognition, performance improvements for terahertz spectroscopy used in glucose monitoring, and biometric sleep sensors.

Infrared transceivers, which can be used in phones or head-mounted devices, include beam guidance technology and will likely be used for augmented object recognition via visible and infrared light. Depending on the record, the device can detect objects in a variety of lighting conditions, including visible, UV and infrared light spectrum ranges. The dossier suggests that this technology could be deployed to examine foods for ripeness, calorie content, etc. According to the report, it could also be applied to help with object recognition for visually impaired users.

Apple’s terahertz radiation dossier describes an electromagnetic device used to analyze blood glucose levels. The record further suggests that the detection of liquids, solids, or plasma can be performed in dynamic environments, suggesting capabilities for scanning bloodstream glucose levels. This could eliminate the need for daily incisions to extract blood samples.

Apple’s proposed sleep pattern analysis technology reportedly includes layered sleep sensors that collect biometric data such as body position, breathing and heart rate.

Articles topics

Apple | biometric sensors | biometrics | surveillance | patents | research and development | Touch ID | under display


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