On April 17, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published two new biometric related patent applications from Apple. While one invention delves into various methods that Apple's Touch ID may be using today or could be using in the future, the other introduces us to a new and unique anti-spoofing measure that they aptly call the "Doodle" mode that could be used with the iPhone and/or future Macs.
Two new Touch ID Related Inventions Surface
Two new Apple inventions have come to light today. Apple's first invention generally related to the field of electronics, and, more particularly, to the field of finger biometric sensors, and associated manufacturing methods. The invention is to provide a finger biometric sensor with power control and/or feedback features.
More specifically, a finger biometric sensor that may include a finger biometric sensing layer having an upper major surface at least one sidewall surface and for generating signals related to at least one biometric characteristic of the user's finger when positioned adjacent the upper major surface.
A piezoelectric transducer layer may be adjacent the at least one sidewall surface of the finger biometric sensing layer. A plurality of electrically conductive layers may also be coupled to the piezoelectric transducer layer to define transducer electrodes. At least one of the electrically conductive layers may also cooperate with the finger biometric sensing layer for sensing the at least one biometric characteristic. Accordingly, a finger biometric sensor is provided that may include power control and/or feedback features.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a schematic plan view of a cellular telephone including a finger biometric sensor; FIG. 2 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the finger biometric sensor shown in FIG. 1. The design of the mobile phone has no bearing on the invention. It's merely a generic illustration as it's not a design patent.
More particularly, at least one electrically conductive layer may include a drive electrode for the finger biometric sensing layer. The finger biometric sensor may further include a drive circuit coupled to the transducer electrodes to drive the piezoelectric transducer layer to impart a force to the user's finger, for example. The finger biometric sensor may further include a sense circuit coupled to the transducer electrodes to sense from the piezoelectric transducer layer a force imparted by the user's finger. Advantageously, the finger biometric sensor may provide tactile feedback to the user's finger, it may provide finger presence detection for power control, or it may provide both.
Additionally, the finger biometric sensor may further include a reading circuit coupled to the finger biometric sensing layer for reading signals therefrom, for example. The finger biometric sensor may also include a power up circuit for selectively powering up the reading circuit based upon the sense circuit. The sense circuit may generate a pressure output signal related to an amount of pressure applied by the user's finger, for example, for other functions besides power control.
The finger biometric sensor may further include a matcher coupled to the finger biometric sensing layer for determining a match based upon the at least one biometric characteristic of the user's finger. The finger biometric sensor may also include a navigation circuit coupled to the transducer electrodes for performing at least one navigation function, for example.
Additionally, the finger biometric sensor may also include a feedback circuit coupled to the transducer electrodes for performing at least one feedback function. The feedback circuit and/or the navigation circuit may be embodied in a processor, which may be included within or external to the finger biometric sensor or shared between the sensor and external circuitry.
The finger biometric sensing layer may include or be part of an integrated circuit. Additionally, the finger biometric sensor may include a flexible mounting substrate overlaying the piezoelectric transducer layer and the finger biometric sensing layer.
Another aspect is directed to a method for making a finger biometric sensor. The method may include providing a finger biometric sensing layer having an upper major surface and at least one sidewall surface adjacent thereto and for generating signals related to at least one biometric characteristic of the user's finger when positioned adjacent the first major surface. The method may further include positioning a piezoelectric transducer layer adjacent the at least one sidewall major surface of the finger biometric sensing layer. The method may still further include coupling a plurality of electrically conductive layers to the piezoelectric transducer layer to define transducer electrodes.
Anti-Spoofing Measures Include Doodle Mode, Push and Pull Swipes
In a second fingerprint patent application published today, Apple describes a "doodle" mode as illustrated in the three examples below.
Apple interestingly notes that finger sensor #30 and controller #23 advantageously cooperate to determine "push" swipes from "pull" swipes of the user's finger. The controller stitches or processes the image portions together to form a complete image of the user's finger or a complete image of a portion thereof. An image is not necessarily meant to be an image of the ridges and valleys alone, as it can also include ridge flow vectors, or minutiae points, for example.
The controller is also configured to generate on the phone's display a finger movement trace #26 corresponding to the finger movement travel path. The illustrated trace is completely persistent in that it shows movement from start to finish. The controller may cooperate with the display and enter a "doodle" mode.
In the "doodle" mode, a line or shape corresponding to the user's random finger movement over the finger sensing area #31 is displayed in real time. The doodling motion is similar to the motion for standard navigation on a navigation device (e.g., a trackpad, a trackball, a touch screen, etc.), and thus, the user is encouraged to increase the total area of skin that has been contacted by the finger sensor and thus, the amount of finger data collected.
Apple further notes that the collection of the finger data from the user's finger for the purposes of matching and/or enrollment may be transparent to the user while the user doodles. The "doodle" method, according to Apple, may also be considered for use in a "game."
Apple credits Dale Setlak, James Neil, Daryl Williams, Richard Jones and Nicolaas Van Vonno as the inventors of patent application 20140105469 which was filed in Q4 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such features to market is unknown at this time.
For the record, the foundation of these inventions is already protected by two Authentec granted patents as this one as an example confirms. Each of the patent applications filed by Apple includes some measure of tweaking to the original patent claims and more.
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