In July Patently Apple posted a report revealing one of the patent applications that Apple gained in their acquisition of AuthenTec. Today, Patently Apple reveals a second patent application that Apple gained in their acquisition that was filed in Europe. There were a few interesting findings in this patent. One of them reveals that Apple's future fingerprint scanner has a security feature built-in that will be able to sense "live tissue" so as to reduce spoofing.
More on Apple's Acquired Fingerprint Technology
Fingerprint sensing and matching is a reliable and widely used technique for personal identification or verification. In particular, a common approach to fingerprint identification involves scanning a sample fingerprint or an image thereof and storing the image and/or unique characteristics of the fingerprint image. The characteristics of a sample fingerprint may be compared to information for reference fingerprints already in a database to determine proper identification of a person, such as for verification purposes.
Apple's invention relates to providing a finger sensing device that could generate a reduced noise finger image from a finger positioned at a relatively large distance from the array of finger sensing pixels. This and other objects, features, and advantages are provided by a finger sensing device.
Senses Live Tissue to Reduce Spoofing
Apple's invention discloses an integrated circuit fingerprint sensor including an array of RF sensing electrodes to provide an accurate image of the fingerprint friction ridges and valleys. More particularly, the RF sensing permits imaging of live tissue just below the surface of the skin to reduce spoofing.
Embedded Fingerprint Sensing Device for ID Cards
The finger sensing device may be embedded into standard laminated identification (ID) cards. A finger sensing device that can image the user's finger through standard laminations used in smartcard and RF-ID card fabrication may now be economically built into those cards, using standard low cost card assembly processes.
Fingerprint Sensing Device underneath the Housing of a Host Device
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. The finger sensing device reads the fingerprint through the case plastic. Table 1 below indicates total imaging distances for a finger sensing device positioned underneath different housings or external structures of host devices.
Various Graphics from Apple's Fingerprint-Sensing Device Patent
Apple's Patent FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram of a finger sensing device.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 is a graph of skin electrical properties versus drive signal attenuation for direct and insulated drive finger contact arrangements.
Apple's Patent FIG. 4 is a graph of electric field intensity in a 2-dimensional plane.
Apple's FIGS. 10A/B/C are fingerprint images showing horizontal and vertical differences.
Apple's patent FIG. 12 is a schematic circuit diagram of a portion of a finger sensing device of FIG. 15 noted above.
Apple's patent FIGS. 13A/B/D/F are schematic illustrations of a possible scan pattern for an array of finger sensing pixels of a finger sensing device.
Apple's patent FIGS. 14a and 14b are greatly enlarged fingerprint images including ridge orientation vectors extracted from vertical and horizontal pixel differences, respectively.
Other Notable Fingerprint Patent Filings from Apple
Apple's interest in fingerprint scanners for the iPhone and Mac first surfaced in a 2009 patent application. Apple's project was later advanced in 2012 illustrating that a fingerprint scanner could be combined with face or eye recognition (or Retina recognition) to enhance security needs.
Then in May of this year, Apple revealed yet another patent filing describing a fingerprint scanner that could be concealed beneath a touchscreen and only surface when needed in a particular application.
One of Apple's last patent filings on this subject matter revealed that a fingerprint scanner could also be hidden within a future MacBook or an iDevice bezel. Apple appears to be covering every conceivable angle relating to a future fingerprint scanner. Will Apple's next iPhone be the first Apple product to incorporate a fingerprint scanner/sensor? Time will tell.
Update Aug 17, 2013 - 11:30 AM PST: We've just added a new Patently Apple Category Archive in our right side bar for "Biometrics." Discover even more patents that included biometrics over the years.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.