Our first patent report this morning was titled "Apple Advances their OS X "Quick Look" Feature for iOS iDevices using an Intense Touch Gesture." In this second report, we see Apple extending their thinking from the first patent that we covered. In this patent filing Apple delivers a mind boggling overview of where fingerprint technology may go as Touch ID was just the tip of the iceberg. It begins with future iDevice displays taking on fingerprinting capabilities and sensitivities beyond the just the Home Button. Apple discusses the possible use of virtual knobs, controlling video games via the Home Button, assigning different bank accounts to different fingerprints and much, much more. This has to be the most in-depth patent filing of the year and should be considering that Apple is actually combining a series of patents under this one filing. Some territory is familiar while other aspects are new. While we painstakingly created over ten patent figures for this report, the fact is that the patent filing actually has more than a hundred in total. Considering that the this patent application shares the same background as the first patent report linked to above, we'll just jump right into the meat of this patent because even Apple's introductory summary carries 67 paragraphs. It's a long one, so enjoy.
Secondary Fingerprint Scanner Integrated into the Display
Apple notes that in some embodiments, the device is an electronic device with a separate display (e.g., display #450) and a separate touch-sensitive surface (e.g., touch-sensitive surface #451). In some embodiments, the device is portable multifunction device with a touch screen display and the touch-sensitive surface includes tactile output generators on the display. In some embodiments, the one or more fingerprint sensors include one or more integrated fingerprint sensors #359-1 as shown in patent FIG. 4B which are integrated into the touch-sensitive surface.
Fingerprint Rotating and Twisting Gestures
Apple notes that when a fingerprint sensor is used in addition to a separate touch-sensitive surface, the fingerprint sensor can augment the touch-sensitive surface by providing accurate detection of twisting motions of a contact, identifying different fingerprints of fingers that are used to perform gestures on the fingerprint sensor, and identifying a current user of the device.
In some embodiments, Apple states that the one or more fingerprint-sensor activation criteria include a criterion that is met when a fingerprint-shaped contact is detected to be moving or rotating (e.g., twisting) at a speed below a predetermined threshold speed (or at a rotation speed below a predetermined threshold). Another example of a fingerprint-sensitive user interface element is an interactive user interface object (e.g., a virtual dial or knob as noted in more detail further below).
Secondary Home Button use for Playing a Video Game
Apple provides us with an example of playing and controlling a video game using the new fingerprint gestures and movements outlined in this patent application. In patent figures 8A, 8H and 8J below you're able to see the user control the gaming character aiming and firing his arrows at a target.
Apple notes that patent FIG. 8B illustrates indications of the length of time that the fingerprint #806 is continuously detected on fingerprint sensor as well as the force of fingerprint on the button. The respective indications of length of time and force of the fingerprint on the button are not typically shown on the device, but instead are illustrated herein for the convenience of explanation.
In this example, the Home Button #204 is activated when the force of fingerprint #806 exceeds an activation threshold. In some embodiments, for example when the Home Button is a physical or mechanical button, the activation threshold is a function of spring properties of certain mechanical features of the button and/or friction between the mechanical features of the Home Button. That is to say, in some embodiments, there is a minimum force on the button which causes the button to activate. In some embodiments, activation of the Home Button occurs on a "down-stroke." In some embodiments, activation of the Home Button occurs on an "up-stroke."
Apple notes that in some other embodiments, the Home Button could be a virtual button and a specific gesture detected by fingerprint sensor causes activation of the button.
Whether Apple will choose to start with the design above and then evolve the Home Button to becoming a pop-up gaming joystick as Apple revealed in a patent in January is unknown at this time.
Different Fingerprints for Different Bank Accounts
Apple notes in patent FIG. 26D above that in some embodiments, a user can link different accounts to different fingers. For example, a right thumb fingerprint will cause payment to be submitted through the user's debit accord whereas a left index fingerprint will cause payment to be submitted through the user's credit account.
Controlling Noise Reduction in Recorded Audio with a Fingerprint Sensor
Apple states that many electronic devices enable users to record media, including recording audio. While recording, a user typically wishes to reduce/cancel noise coming from sources other than the intended source in the recorded audio. For example, a user may wish to reduce the sound of his breathing in the recorded audio. However, a user may wish to stop or toggle the noise reduction at will. For example, the user may wish to provide commentary during certain parts of recorded media while cancelling inadvertent user sounds during other parts. Existing devices either do not provide the user this functionality or require the user to navigate through various menus and user interfaces. In the embodiments described below, an improved method for controlling noise reduction in recorded audio is achieved by using a fingerprint sensor to allow the user to toggle noise reduction on and off. This method streamlines the process of controlling noise reduction in recorded audio by doing so in response to a fingerprint sensor on an electronic device.
Apple's paten FIG. 14A shows the device detecting fingerprint 1404 (e.g., a right thumb contact) on touch-sensitive surface #451 away from integrated fingerprint sensor #359-1 and noise reduction status #1408 indicating that noise reduction is on (e.g., active) in the recorded audio. FIG. 14B (not shown) shows the device detecting the fingerprint on the touch-sensitive surface over integrated fingerprint sensor and the noise reduction status indicating that noise reduction is off (e.g., inactive) in the recorded audio. FIG. 14C (not shown) shows the device detecting that fingerprint 1404 is no longer on integrated fingerprint sensor 359-1 and noise reduction status 1408 indicating that noise reduction is on in the recorded audio.
Apple's patent FIG. 14D noted above illustrates an example of a device with a display, a fingerprint sensor, and a camera sensor for use in controlling noise reduction in recorded audio.
An iDevice Home Button Used as a Scroll Wheel
Apple's patent FIG. 8K noted above illustrates an example in which the focus selector's position is controlled by circumferential movement around fingerprint sensor (e.g., the fingerprint sensor acts as a "scroll-wheel" with exemplary properties illustrated below). This feature may one day work with Safari and many other applications.
Banking App Example: Performing a Respective Restricted Operation Based on Fingerprint-Verification Information
For this segment, Apple states that many electronic devices are enabled to perform a restricted operation in response to a user inputting a valid authorization credential (e.g., a password or a swipe pattern). Such devices, however, rely on the restricted operation comparing a previously stored authorization credential with the inputted authorization credential in order to validate the inputted authorization credential.
The device described below improves on existing methods by generating fingerprint-verification information (e.g., indicative of a "no match," a "weak match" or a "strong match") for a respective fingerprint in accordance with system-level fingerprint-verification criteria. In turn, the device utilizes the pre-computed fingerprint-verification information to determine whether to perform the restricted operation.
In Apple's patent FIG. 23B illustrates an iPhone detecting a user input over a banking application #2312 on their display. User input #2302, for example, is a user's right index finger. Access to banking application for example, is a restricted operation.
In some embodiments, the fingerprint-verification criteria specifies a plurality of classifications (or confidence values) for a detected fingerprint based on a percentage of matching minutia points in relation to one or more previously registered fingerprints. For example, user input #2302 is classified into one of three classifications (or confidence values) according to the fingerprint-verification criteria. In this example, the fingerprint-verification information indicates that user input is a "no match" if 30% or fewer of the detected fingerprint's minutia points match, a "weak match" if more than 30% and less than 70% of the detected fingerprint's minutia points match, or a "strong match" if more than 70% of the detected fingerprint's minutia points match. In some embodiments, a user is enabled to modify the fingerprint-verification criteria by, for example, modifying one or more of the above percentage values relating to a respective one of the three classifications.
Many Possible Future Applications using New Fingerprint Functions
Apple's patent FIG. 35J illustrates fingerprint 3534, analogous to fingerprint 3532, detected on virtual knob 3530. The user twists fingerprint 3534 at a rate below the predetermined threshold speed. In accordance with the below-threshold twisting rate of fingerprint 3534, device 100 operates the portion of touch screen 112 that includes virtual knob 3530 in enhanced-sensitivity mode.
Apple's patent provides us with a hundred (if not a few hundred) illustrations to review – and way too many for us to cover in this report. The depth of this patent application is mind boggling covering so many fingerprint triggered features like multitasking and a long list of future apps that will be able to take advantage of Apple's new fingerprint related functions. It's definitely one worth reading over the weekend if this subject matter interests you. To review Apple's full patent application, click here.
Apple credits Steve Hotelling, Scott Myers, Marcel Van Os, Benjamin Pope, Daniel Jarvis, Nicholas Merz, Michael Cretella, Michael Eng, James Foster, Terry Gilton, Myra Haggerty, Byron Han, Stephen Lynch, Paul Meade, Brian Land, Mushtag Sarwar, John Ternus, Paul Thompson and John Wright as the inventors of patent application 20150135108 which was originally filed in Q4 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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