An Apple patent reveals a new approach to implementing Face, Touch and Iris ID sensors under future device displays & more
Since 2020 Patently Apple has covers at least 10 Apple patents relating to future iPhone and other devices offering Touch and/or Face ID that is set under the display (01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09 and 10). Earlier this month display industry consultant Ross Young tweeted that "Under panel Face ID is now expected to be pushed at least a year to 2025 or later due to sensor issues."
Considering who many types of approaches that Apple's engineering teams have taken since 2020, the "so-called issues" alluded to this month may still be in Apple's team deciding which way to implement this technology.
The patent presented today illustrates under-display sensors that could be for Face and Touch ID, iris recognition and even the ability to interpret a user's hand gestures made in front of the display to control aspects of applications iPhones, Apple watch and other devices.
Apple's invention covers electronic devices that may include and infrared sensor such as a quantum film infrared sensor. A quantum film is a light absorbing semiconductor thin film composed of colloidal quantum dots that have been mechanically and electronically coupled together by a cross-linking process.
The quantum film infrared sensor may include light sources and one or more quantum film photodetectors. The electronic device may include a display panel with pixels that emit display light. The light sources may emit infrared light through the pixels of the display panel.
The quantum film photodetector may receive the infrared light through the pixels of the display panel after the infrared light has reflected off an external object. The quantum film photodetector may generate sensor data based on the received infrared light. A sensor integrated circuit may read and process the sensor data.
Later in the patent Apple notes that control circuitry may, as examples, process light and/or reflected light to perform proximity sensing (e.g., to sense, detect, identify, compute, or determine the proximity, presence, and/or absence of external object and/or the distance/displacement/velocity between external object and a device), to capture two-dimensional or three-dimensional images of an external object and/or other portions of exterior regions to identify physical features of external objects such as fingerprint ridges (e.g., quantum film infrared sensor may be an optical fingerprint sensor that identifies a user or another person based on the user's fingerprint) and/or facial features (e.g., quantum film infrared sensor may be a facial sensor that identifies a user or another person based on the user's facial features and/or that identifies facial expressions), to detect and/or track the direction of a user's gaze at one or more times (e.g., when the external object is a user's eye), to detect and/or track the location of the object over time, to detect physical gestures provided by a user or other persons as a user input to a device.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrated below is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electronic device having a quantum film infrared sensor that senses infrared light transmitted through a display; FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative quantum film photodetector.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 above is a perspective view of an illustrative quantum film photodetector that extends across a lateral area of a substrate; FIG. 11 is a perspective view of an illustrative substrate having multiple quantum film photodetectors.
Display engineers will truly appreciated the depth of Apple's patent application US 20230087411 A1 that could be reviewed here.
- Mark Winkler: Director, Distinguished Engineer, Laser Sensing
- Xiaofan Niu: Camera Process Engineer / Panel Process & Optics Engineering
- Tong Chen: Optical Sensing Engineer
- Zach Beiley: Hardware Development Manager