New Apple Patent Application Of Fingerprint Sensor Turns Up

Posted Aug 18, 2013

Patently Apple has discovered a second patent application that Apple gained in their acquisition of AuthenTec that was filed in Europe.  One of the interesting discoveries in the patent is Apple’s reported future fingerprint scanner has a security feature built-in that will be able to sense “live tissue.”  The fingerprint sensor is a widely used technique for personal identification.

Apple’s patent application is related to providing a finger sensing device that could generate a reduced noise finger image from a finger that is at a distance from the array of finger sensing pixels.

Apple’s patent disclosed an integrated circuit fingerprint sensor including an array of RF sensing electrodes to provide an accurate image of the fingerprint friction ridges and valleys.  The RF sensing permits imaging of live tissue below the surface of the skin to reduce spoofing.

The finger sensing device can be embedded into standard laminated identification (ID) cards as well.  The finger sensing device may be mounted underneath the case or housing of the host device with no penetration to the outside of the case, according to Patently Apple.

The finger sensing device can read the fingerprint through the case plastic.  Apple has reportedly been interested in fingerprint scanner technology for the iPhone in 2009.  The company’s fingerprint project advanced in 2012 when they illustrated a fingerprint scanner could be combined with face or eye recognition.

In one of Apple’s latest patent filings, it revealed that a fingerprint scanner could also be hidden in a future MacBook or iDevice bezel.  Apple’s integration of a fingerprint sensor in future devices is still complete speculation, but these patents should be an indication of something to come.