Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple’s fourth next-gen Touch ID patent application for 2019 that involves the user simply touching the display to have their fingerprint captured for authentication. The patent states that the finger could be statically positioned to work or even in action like sliding a finger across the sensor area.
Apple’s invention includes a display and an imaging sensor positioned behind the display. The display is constructed from a number of structural and functional layers collectively referred to as a "display stack." The imaging sensor can be any suitable imaging sensor, including both single-element imaging sensors (e.g., photodiodes, phototransistors, photosensitive elements, and so on) and multi-element imaging sensors (e.g., complementary metal oxide semiconductor arrays, photodiode arrays, and so on). For convenient reference, imaging sensors--however constructed or implemented--are referred to herein as "optical imaging arrays."
In many embodiments, an optical imaging array is positioned behind a display and is oriented to receive light transmitted through the display in a direction generally opposite that of light emitted from the display.
The optical imaging array can be used by the electronic device for any suitable imaging, sensing, or data aggregation purpose including, but not limited to: ambient light sensing; proximity sensing; depth sensing; receiving structured light; optical communication; proximity sensing; biometric imaging (e.g., fingerprint imaging, iris imaging, facial recognition, and so on); and the like.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1A below depicts an electronic device that can incorporate a display stack suitable for through-display imaging; FIG. 1B depicts a simplified block diagram of the electronic device of FIG. 1A; FIG. 6A depicts an electronic device incorporating a display stack with a locally-increased inter-pixel transmittance.
More specifically, Apple notes it may be appreciated that regions of different pixel densities can be positioned anywhere within an electronic device display. For example, patent FIG. 6A depicts an electronic device #600 incorporating a display stack defining an active display area #602 that in turn defines a high pixel density region #604 and a low pixel density region #606.
In one embodiment, the low pixel density region is positioned above and aligned with an imaging aperture that in turn is positioned above and aligned with an optical imaging array.
In this example, when a user of the electronic device touches the active display area #602 above the low pixel density region #606, the optical imaging array can image the user's fingerprint. The user's fingerprint can be imaged when the user's finger is stationary or moving.
For example, in one embodiment, the user's fingerprint can be imaged when the user slides from one side of the low pixel density region #606 to another side of the low pixel density region.
In another example, the user's fingerprint can be imaged when the user places his or her finger onto the low pixel density region.
In some cases, the active display area #602 can display an image or animation that encourages the user to touch a particular part of the low pixel density region #606 in order that the user's fingerprint can be captured.
For example, in some embodiments, the active display area can display a shape within the low pixel density region #606. The shape may be animated in a manner that draws the user's attention. For example, the shape can pulse, rotate in three dimensions, flash one or more colors, vibrate, and so on. In other cases, other shapes, patterns, or animations are possible.
In some examples, the electronic device #600 can generate one or more supplemental outputs in addition to, or in place of the operation of displaying an image or an animation described above. Supplemental outputs can include, but may not be limited to: playing a sound from a speaker; generating a haptic output with a vibrating element; generating a haptic tap or set of haptic pulses with a linear actuator; vibrating the display or housing; increasing or decreasing perceivable friction of the display (e.g., electrostatic attraction or ultrasonic vibration); and so on or any combination thereof.
Apple’s patent FIG. 6B below depicts a MacBook incorporating a display stack with a locally-increased inter-pixel transmittance; FIG. 6C depicts another method of incorporating a display stack with a locally-increased inter-pixel transmittance; FIG. 6D depicts an enlarged detail view of the MacBook of FIG. 6C, enclosed within the circle C-C.
Apple’s patent FIG. 7 above is a simplified flow chart depicting example operations of a method of capturing an image of an object touching a display; FIG. 8 is a simplified flow chart depicting example operations of a method of capturing an image of an object touching a display.
More specifically, Apple’s patent FIG. 6B depicts device #608 incorporating a display stack with a locally-increased inter-pixel optical transmittance. In this example, a MacBook includes a primary display that defines an active display area #610 that defines a high pixel density region #612 and a low pixel density region #614.
As with other embodiments described, when an imaging aperture and an optical imaging array can be positioned below the low pixel density region #614 in order to capture an image of a user's fingerprint when the user touches the active display area 610 within the low pixel density region 614.
As with all of Apple’s patents, they make sure that it’s understood that the invention can extend to a wider variety of devices. In this case, Apple lists a tablet, desktop computers; computing accessories; peripheral input devices; vehicle control devices; mobile entertainment devices; augmented reality devices; virtual reality devices; industrial control devices; digital wallet devices; home security devices; business security devices; wearable devices; health devices; implantable devices; clothing devices; fashion accessory devices; and so on.
Apple's patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q2 2018. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
The other three patents published this year about Touch ID under the display include the following:
01: Next-Gen Under-the-Display Touch ID could use an Array of Pin Hole Cameras to Capture Biometric Data
02: Apple Wins Patent for an Alternative Touch ID Methodology allowing users to simply Touch the Display for Authentication
03: Apple's Next-Gen Touch ID uses Optical Imaging Sensors under a Display for a Variety of Devices like Apple Watch
Giovanni Gozzini: Director of Engineering
Moe (Mohammad) Yeke Yazdandoost: Tech Lead, Lead Sensing Systems Architect.