One of the more unusual rumors to attach itself to the iPhone 5S has been this talk of giving the phone a fingerprint scanner. We’ve heard a number of theories on both why Apple might want to do such a thing and how it could hope to implement it. While we’ve got some serious doubts about the utility of such a feature, the general thread to unravel thus far has described some sort of integration with a mobile payment system, and a fingerprint scanner embedded in the phone’s home button. Now a new Apple patent is suggesting another way it might hope to make a fingerprint-scanning iPhone a reality.
Rather than putting the sensor in the home button, nor cluttering up the phone’s design with a separate scanner, this patent describes a system that uses the phone’s own screen as fingerprint scanner.
It sounds like a fantastically elegant solution, but it may be just a little ahead of its time. After all, there’s a world of difference between describing the functionality of such a system in a patent application and developing the technology into a state that’s ready for mass production. That makes us hesitant to expect seeing this on the iPhone 5S, but that doesn’t mean that fingerprint scanning couldn’t arrive in a different form.