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Apple Invents a new Under Display Sensor System for Touch ID, In-Air Gesturing, Gaze-Tracking, Health and much more

1 cover under display sensor patent


On May 10, Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple has Won a Patent for Next-Gen Under Display Touch ID for Future iPhones using Optical Fibers." Images from that patent is presented above.


Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that once again relates to an electronic device that includes a display and an optical sensor formed underneath the display. A pixel removal region on the display may at least partially overlap with the sensor.


An iPhone with an under display optical sensor for Touch ID has been a project at Apple for some time now. Apple was granted another patent in 2021 that dates back to its original patent filing in 2019.


Today's patent application from Apple goes far beyond mere Touch ID sensors under the display. Apple lists a multitude of sensors that could find their way under a future display of an iDevice, Mac and beyond. Earlier today we posted a patent report regarding in-air gestures.


In this patent, Apple shows that they could embed a sensor under a display of a device specifically for measuring 3D non-contact in-air gestures and so much more as listed below.   


Input-output devices (#12 of FIG. 1 below) may include one or more sensors (#13 of FIG. 1) such as force sensors (e.g., strain gauges, capacitive force sensors, resistive force sensors, etc.), audio sensors such as microphones, touch and/or proximity sensors such as capacitive sensors (e.g., a two-dimensional capacitive touch sensor associated with a display and/or a touch sensor that forms a button, trackpad, or other input device not associated with a display), and other sensors.


In accordance with some embodiments, sensors may include optical sensors such as optical sensors that emit and detect light (e.g., optical proximity sensors such as transreflective optical proximity structures), ultrasonic sensors, and/or other touch and/or proximity sensors, monochromatic and color ambient light sensors, image sensors, fingerprint sensors, temperature sensors, proximity sensors and other sensors for measuring three-dimensional non-contact gestures ("air gestures"), pressure sensors, sensors for detecting position, orientation, and/or motion (e.g., accelerometers, magnetic sensors such as compass sensors, gyroscopes, and/or inertial measurement units that contain some or all of these sensors), health sensors, radio-frequency sensors, depth sensors (e.g., structured light sensors and/or depth sensors based on stereo imaging devices), optical sensors such as self-mixing sensors and light detection and ranging (lidar) sensors that gather time-of-flight measurements, humidity sensors, moisture sensors, gaze tracking sensors, and/or other sensors.


In some arrangements, the device may use sensors and/or other input-output devices to gather user input (e.g., buttons may be used to gather button press input, touch sensors overlapping displays can be used for gathering user touch screen input, touch pads may be used in gathering touch input, microphones may be used for gathering audio input, accelerometers may be used in monitoring when a finger contacts an input surface and may therefore be used to gather finger press input, etc.).


According to Apple, devices that could include under display sensors include Macs, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, a future mixed reality headset, smartglasses, a gaming device, systems in a vehicle and more.


Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic diagram of an illustrative electronic device having a display and one or more sensors; FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative display stack that at least partially covers a sensor.


2 Apple patent figs 1  3 & 7D  under display sensors


A second part of this invention covers how the display subpixels may be partially removed from any region(s) of display to expose a camera, for example. The example of FIG. 7D above illustrates a pixel removal region #706 formed only in the center portion along the top edge of an iPhone (the pixel removal region covers a recessed notch area in the display). The optical sensors/cameras could be covered by pixels that appear and disappear as needed.


This is a technical patent and those interested in diving in, review Apple's patent application number 20220165814.


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