Apple reveals a new method for executing Under-Display Touch ID for iDevices in a new patent filing published today
Apple has been working on under-display fingerprint technology since at least 2013 (published in 2015) and since then there have been a great number of patents related to this future feature (01, 02, 03, 04, 05 and more).
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published yet another patent application from Apple that relates to sensor technology and, more particularly, to an enhanced under-display fingerprint sensing based on off-axis angular light.
Apple's invention covers an under-display fingerprint-sending system wherein the display consists of active red-green-blue (RGB) pixels that emit light and illuminate the finger placed on top of the display. The light reflected from the finger passes through the openings between the display pixels and is captured by the sensor beneath the display.
The contact and noncontact regions between the finger skin and the display's glass plate generate different light intensity, which thus forms the ridge-valley contrast of the fingerprint. Due to the low-light throughput and diffraction caused by the display stack, the fingerprint image may suffer from low contrast and low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).
To overcome this problem, Apple's invention provides a method to capture the off-axis angular light from the finger by insertion of angle-dependent filtering options between the display and the sensor. This method can improve the contrast of fingerprint impressions and maintain the compactness of the entire sensing system.
In some aspects, the subject technology is directed to an apparatus for under-display fingerprint sensing based on off-axis angular light. The apparatus includes a light-emitting layer, an optical coupling layer, a collimator layer and a pixelated image sensor.
The light-emitting layer is covered by a transparent layer and illuminates the surface touching the transparent layer and allows transmission of reflected light rays from the surface to underlying layers including the optical coupling layer, the collimator layer and the pixelated image sensor.
The optical coupling layer directs the reflected light rays at an angle to the collimator layer, which includes a number of apertures and can collimate the directed reflected light rays. The pixelated image sensor can sense collimated light rays.
In one or more implementations, the optical coupling layer is an optical layer made of a planar array of Fresnel prisms. The apparatus further includes a polarizer, including a linear polarizer and one or more circular polarizers.
The angle at which the optical coupling layer directs the reflected light rays is about 42.degree. with respect to the normal to the plane of the optical coupling layer. The collimator layer can be a tilted collimator with aperture walls at nearly 42.degree. with respect to the normal to the plane of the optical coupling layer.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a diagram illustrating an example of an under-display optical fingerprint-sensing device based on off-axis angular light; FIG. 2 is a diagram illustrating an example of an under-display optical fingerprint-sensing device including two polarizer layers; FIG. 3 is a diagram illustrating an example of an under-display optical fingerprint-sensing device including three polarizer layers.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below is a diagram illustrating an example of a simulated angular distribution of light intensity corresponding to the three polarizer layers of FIG. 3; FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating an example of a simulated angular distribution of light intensity corresponding to the two polarizer layers of FIG. 2.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 above is a diagram illustrating an example of an under-display optical fingerprint-sensing device based on off-axis angular light including blazed gratings; FIG. 8 is a diagram illustrating an example of an under-display optical fingerprint-sensing device based on off-axis angular light including holographic gratings.
For more details, review Apple's patent application number 20210081639. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
There have been rumors for some time now on under-display Touch ID and the latest rumor we covered was in January titled "Yet another rumor has surfaced predicting 2021 iPhones will Finally introduce in-display Touch ID."
Samsung introduced new economical 'Galaxy A' smartphones with a few advanced features such as offering both face ID and under-display fingerprint ID. So, we're hoping that this will indeed be the year that Apple finally delivers an iPhone with dual biometric options.