Apple fanboys, it is probably time to bid the beloved home button goodbye. The Cupertino giant has today been granted a patent for a touch display which integrates micro-LED sensing technology directly into the screen. This would enable upcoming Apple devices to incorporate just this display to read fingerprints directly from the screen — without a dedicated sensor in the home button.
In the patent document made public by the US Patent and Trade Office, the technology has been described as an “interactive display panel with IR diodes”. This patent further suggests that the company can layout the design for incorporating fingerprints, as well as touch panels into certain sections of the screen. Earlier, Apple included a capacitive drive ring in the home button to power the Touch ID which is used to authenticate the user’s identity.
The said patent technology was originally filed by micro-LED display company LuxVue back in 2014. It was then reassigned to Apple when LuxVue was acquired by them in May 2014 itself. Initially reported by Apple Insider, the system uses micro LED in an active matrix display to emit light and a sensing IR blast to detect the light falling on the screen. This is different from the usual display technology used in mobile devices, which requires two separate components to be layered together. Get your nerd on, here is the description of the technology in the patent document:
A display panel comprising: a display substrate having a display region; a row of interactive pixels within the display region, each interactive pixel comprising an infrared emitting light emitting diode (IR emitting LED) and a sensing infrared diode (sensing IR diode); a row of interactive microchips within the display region and adjacent to the row of interactive pixels, each interactive microchip including a selection device to operate a corresponding sensing IR diode in the row of interactive pixels in a light sensing mode and a subpixel circuit comprising a driving circuit to operate a corresponding IR emitting LED in the row of interactive pixels in a light emission mode; a row of emissive pixels within the display region, each emissive pixel comprising an IR emitting LED, wherein each emissive pixel does not include a sensing IR diode; a row of driving microchips within the display region and adjacent to the row of emissive pixels, each driving microchip includes a subpixel circuit comprising a driving circuit to operate a corresponding IR emitting LED in the row of emissive pixels.
Thus, you would no longer have to rely on a dedicated fingerprint reader embedded in the home button. You can now interact with a virtual fingerprint sensor which has been placed within the touchscreen. This further corroborates the rumors of Apple planning to ditch the home button in favor of an under-glass fingerprint sensor. This also hints towards the fact that Apple may be looking to ultimately ditch the Touch ID sensor for this advanced mechanism.
But, this patent also gives credibility to another crazy idea, which says that Cupertino might also be looking to ditch the buttons on both sides of the upcoming iPhone. There have been rumors that Apple might include touch-based sensors to replace these buttons, which can only be made possible with the aforementioned technology.
It means the upcoming 10th Anniversary iPhone could definitely be one step closer to looking like the concept image attached above. There is currently much hype surrounding iPhone 8’s launch, as it being referred to in leaks. This upcoming device is expected to introduce major redesigns in the iPhone lineup.