The iPhone 8 is going to have plenty of novel features compared to previous iPhones, although most of them are already available on competing devices. Yes, the 3D facial recognition feature is going to be a lot more sophisticated than anything found on an Android device, and a lot more secure, but it’s not an entirely unique feature for the iPhone.
However, the iPhone 8 was supposed to offer users a feature not available on any other device aside from prototypes: a fingerprint sensor under the display. That might not happen this year, according to most of the recent iPhone 8 reports out there, but Apple certainly has developed the technology that would power it.
Seen first by Apple Insider, USPTO patent number 9,747,488 titled Active sensing element for acoustic imaging systems , details a fingerprint imaging technology that would reside under a display.
The system would use acoustics to detect and read the user’s fingerprint, replacing the usual optic sensor placed inside the iPhone’s iconic home button.
Because it reads acoustic waves that bounce off an element pressing against the display’s surface, like a finger, the system would not require a dedicated home button like the current Touch ID tech does. Apple would, thus, be able to enlarge the display of the iPhone and kill the home button, without losing fingerprint-sensing capabilities.
However, just because Apple toyed with this idea, it doesn’t mean it’s ready for mass consumption — it’s not even clear whether this is the kind of tech that Apple plans to use for Touch ID going forward. Furthermore, this isn’t the first patent that describes a potential technology to power a display fingerprint sensor.
What’s certain is that most reports out there agree that Apple has encountered plenty of issues coming up with a under-the-screen fingerprint reader. Competitors aren’t doing any better either, and Samsung is only expected to unearth such mobile tech in about a year when the Galaxy Note 9 launches.