We have been inundated with leaks that show how the Samsung Galaxy S8 has eliminated the Home button to achieve wider screen real estate. Apple, however, could also be doing the same to the upcoming iPhone 8 if its fingerprint patent submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gets implemented this year.
The patent, which was filed back in 2014, explains a technology that will enable a device's display to function as a fingerprint reader. It was first submitted by an LED display company called LuxVue, which Apple has acquired the same year the patent was filed.
When the patent was published this Feb. 14, Apple is already the assigned patent holder.
On-Screen Fingerprint Sensor
Based on the attached patent documents, the on-screen fingerprint sensor relies on a micro LED system to sense light within an active matrix display. The sensing IR diode then detects fingerprints. It is not yet clear if the reported OLED screens that Apple purportedly ordered from Samsung accommodated this technology already.
The innovation in this particular technology seems to rest on the capability to embed all fingerprint reading sensors on one device or component. Fingerprint modules in current devices rely on two separate components that need to be layered together to work.
"The integration of sensing IR diodes into pixels within the display region may allow for thinner, less bulky display systems," the patent explained. "Further, the ability to sense IR light enables the display panel to perform interactive operations without the need to emit visible light. Accordingly, a user can interact with a display panel even though the display panel appears to be off."
Apple vs. Samsung Fingerprint Technology
Now, there are rumors that Samsung is merely relocating its fingerprint sensor at the back of the Galaxy S8. Based on leaked images showing accessories getting manufactured, the module appears to have been located beside the camera. Some sources are fretting over this particular bit of information, as such placement could prove quite inconvenient.
There are, however, speculations that Samsung could implement an optical fingerprint sensor in the S8's chin. This is based on a Synaptics announcement that it will be mass-producing its FS9100 optical sensor in second quarter of this year.
One should note that the company is a Samsung partner, and the S8's launch itself has been significantly delayed. The link here is quite prominent. It will not take a high amount of imagination to conclude that the delay could be driven by a need to accommodate Synaptics' schedule.
This technology could distinguish the S8's authentication solution from the Apple patent in the sense that it can be embedded under the cover of glass.