iPhone 8 TouchID sensor: new patent hints at a surprising location


The fingerprint sensor of iPhone 8 has attained some serious celebrity status indeed. It has become arguably the most debated fingerprint sensor ever built by Apple. The search for an all screen design with TouchID sensor embedded in the display has led to some serious complexities that’re delaying the production of this highly anticipated iPhone. On the other hand, a TouchID sensor on the back of device will not only be painful from ergonomic standpoint but also a step backward. So if iPhone 8 has to be given a nearly bezel-less display, the home button and TouchID sensor embedded in it must go. But where should they go? The answer is worth a few billion dollars at least.

Now it seems that Apple may finally have found a way to accomplish what it wanted: an all screen design without slapping the TouchID sensor on back. A new patent recently granted to the company describes a new type of smaller and thinner fingerprint sensor that can be embedded into something as small as a power button.

iPhone 8 TouchID sensor: new patent hints at a surprising location
iPhone 8 TouchID sensor: new patent hints at a surprising location

The patent, which has been granted exactly after two years of its submission, talks about a sensor without glue layer and a few other things, which decreases the overall thickness of sensor significantly while increasing the accuracy. It says:

“The finger biometric sensor assembly 30 may have a reduced overall thickness (e.g., in some embodiments, 150-200 microns for the cover layer and the finger biometric sensor IC die combined), relative to prior art finger biometric sensor assemblies. In particular, the finger biometric sensor assembly 30 does not include a glue layer, which may account for about 8-10 microns of height. A glue layer also generally has a dielectric constant of about three and also generally has conductive particles, both of which may increasingly dissipate electric fields with respect to the finger biometric sensing IC die 31. The glue layer also tends to vary across the finger biometric sensor IC die causing tilt. Thus, by using a glue layer between a cover layer and a finger biometric sensor IC die, for example, the reliability of the finger biometric assembly and the quality of sensed finger biometric data may be negatively affected.”

In simple words, not only this new fingerprint sensor can be thinner but also more accurate, because an uneven application of glue causes tilt in the fingerprint sensor, which in turn makes the sensor slightly less effective.

Continuing further, the patent filing says:

“Because the finger biometric sensor assembly 30 is smaller than prior art finger biometric sensor assemblies, the finger biometric sensor assembly may located in where real-estate has been limited, for example, along a thin side of the housing.”

Moreover, the patent specifically describes the possibility of a fingerprint sensor embedded in power button:

“In particular, the finger biometric sensor assembly may be carried by an input device, e.g., power button, along the relative thin edge of the housing. This may allow for the display to be larger, for example.”

So we may end up unlocking our iPhones with an immediate press of power button. And while it may not seem as geeky and cool as a fingerprint sensor embedded in the display, it certainly is more practical from a manufacturing standpoint while leaving the room for a bigger display. And now when time is slipping and an all screen design is looking almost confirmed for iPhone 8, we can’t deny that Apple might’ve done something like this.

However, the final picture will come out only in September or October. Who knows, if Apple might’ve figured out the display-embedded fingerprint sensor somehow? We can’t be sure about anything until Apple comes out with the real thing itself. But if this particular thing happens… would you love it? Please let us know in the comments.

Ashish Bhatnagar
Ashish is passionate about all things tech ever since his childhood. Some of his all time favorite devices are from Apple, and he has spent considerable time researching about the company. As a result, now he covers company's product launches here on HiTechWiki. You can connect with him on Facebook or Twitter!"