The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 48 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover a major invention relating to a multimode fingerprint scanner. The first scanner is noted as being a "stationary" mode scanner designed for the Home Button as it is today for unlocking the display and making purchases on iTunes. A secondary scanner is shown to be set in a secondary location on an iPhone that is considered a "moving mode" scanner designed specifically for financial transactions and our report will tell you why Apple is seriously considering this new moving mode. Apple's granted patent also indicates that the financial system component supports NFC which is rapidly becoming the industry standard. Whether Apple will actually use this standard remains an open question.
Apple Granted Patent for a Multimode Fingerprint Reader Supporting an iWallet Application
Apple has been granted a patent today for their invention relating to a multimode fingerprint reader/scanner.
According to Apple, their new fingerprint reader may have a two-dimensional array of sensor electrodes. The electronic device may operate the fingerprint reader in a stationary finger mode in which all of the sensors in the two-dimensional array of sensors are used to capture a fingerprint from the user's finger while the user's finger is in a stationary position on the fingerprint reader. The electronic device may also operate the fingerprint reader in a moving finger mode in which all of the two-dimensional sensors in the array or only a subset of the sensors in the array are used to capture a fingerprint from the user's finger while the user is swiping the finger across the fingerprint reader.
The electronic device may use the stationary finger mode and the moving finger mode to support different types of device operations. For example, the electronic device may use the moving finger mode when performing sensitive operations such as financial transactions.
The electronic device may include near field communications circuitry. When activity is detected using the near field communications circuitry, the fingerprint reader may be operated in the moving finger mode.
The fingerprint sensor may be activated when a proximity sensor detects the presence of a finger. Different actions may be taken by the device in response to detection of different fingerprints. For example, the device may launch a first software application when a first fingerprint is detected and may launch a second software application when a second fingerprint is detected.
In Apple's patent FIG. 8 noted below we're able to see a diagram showing how a fingerprint may be constructed from multiple fingerprint data captures each of which involves use of all of the sensors in a two-dimensional array of sensors in the fingerprint reader while operating the fingerprint reader operating in a moving finger mode; FIG. 9 is a front view of an illustrative electronic device with a fingerprint reader showing how the electronic device may display instructions for a user when operating the fingerprint reader in a stationary finger mode; and FIG. 11 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in displaying mode-dependent fingerprint reader operating instructions for a user.
In Apple's patent FIG. 14 noted below we're able to see a diagram showing how an electronic device that is operating a fingerprint reader in a stationary finger mode may unlock a display screen or take other suitable actions in response to capturing a valid fingerprint from a user;
In that same set of graphics we're able to see Apples patent FIG. 15 which is a diagram showing how an electronic device that is operating a fingerprint reader in a moving finger mode may complete a financial transaction such as a wireless payment transaction in response to capturing a valid fingerprint from a user.
Apple is Considering a Secondary Style of Fingerprint Scanner Specifically for Financial Transactions
According to Apple, when fingerprint reader is operated in the stationary finger mode, it is possible for a user to leave a residual fingerprint on the reader following use of the reader. An attacker might potentially try to reactivate the residual fingerprint by placing a moist object on top of the residual fingerprint.
Because there may be a potential for attacks of this type when operating a fingerprint reader in stationary finger mode, it may be desirable for the device to require use of the moving finger mode in certain situations. For example, the device may require that the fingerprint reader be used in the moving finger mode whenever the device is using the fingerprint reader in connection with a financial transaction or other sensitive device operation.
With this type of arrangement, attacks of the type that rely on reactivating a residual fingerprint will not be effective, because fingerprint data is only gathered while finger is being moved.
Apple credits Scott Mullins as the sole inventor of granted patent 8,810,367 which was originally filed in Q3 2011 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
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