Apple, as per multiple rumors that have surfaced online lately, is reportedly experimenting with the idea of an in-display fingerprint sensor for upcoming iPhones. Now, an Apple patent filed before the United States Patent & Trademark office suggests that the company is indeed toying with putting a camera (or an authentication sensor) behind the screen. And yes, at least once, the patent filing clearly mentions ‘an under-display camera’.
Titled ‘Photodetectors Integrated into Thin-Film Transistor Backplanes’, the patent talks about a photodetector attached to the display and receiving light falling through it. Apple’s implementations talk about modifying a photodetector to functions an authentication, both by reading fingerprint scans and a 3D face map. If the last two ideas sound familiar, yes, they can well be in-screen Touch ID and in-screen Face ID modules.
|“An array of photodetectors may be used, for example, for security, health monitoring, or entertainment purposes. For example, when used for security purposes, an array of photodetectors may be used to obtain biometric information, such as fingerprints, palm-prints, 3D face scans, or retina scans. The biometric information may then be used to identify or authenticate a user.”|
The Apple patent filing further adds that an array of photodiodes placed beneath (or attached) to a layer – an LTPO OLED panel or an LCD – can work (either alone on in tandem with other sensors) as ‘a bio-authentication or facial recognition sensor’. Another solution is that the photodetector beneath the display can be configured and turned into a front-facing camera, a fingerprint sensor, or a facial recognition sensor.
As per a previous report, Apple has started testing in-display fingerprint sensors for the 2021 iPhone line-up, but won’t ditch Face ID. Interestingly, another report that cites sources familiar with the latest developments at Apple claims that the company is experimenting with an optical in-display fingerprint sensor and might bring it to the 2021 iPhones without ditching Face ID hardware.
Coming back to the patent, it suggests that Apple might eventually bring in-display fingerprint Touch ID and even under-screen Face ID to its upcoming iPhones. If that happens, we might finally get an iPhone without the ugly wide notch at the top, paving the way for a truly seamless screen real estate. But do keep in mind that this is only a patent filing we’re talking about, which means the technology descries in it the documents might never make it to an actual product.