Apple’s Fingerprint Technology Patent Comes to Life in New iPhone 5s

By Joseph Mandour on September 13, 2013

California Intellectual Property LawOrange County – By all accounts, Apple’s recent Keynote did not disappoint the millions who watched.   Among the chief developments from the Cupertino-based tech giant’s reveal, the next batch of iPhones will have two models, the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s.   Equally buzzworthy is that the more expensive 5s will introduce Apple followers to the company’s new fingerprint scanner, the technology for which was uncovered as the subject of a patent filed in the US in 2012.

The patent, which was recently published by the Word Intellectual Property Organization as International Application Number PCT/US2013/027627, states that the home button will have fingerprint scanning technology.  Specifically, the claims detail how the home button will read fingerprints using a 2D plane of electrode sensors.  The new home button will also feature a shiny ring around the button, which will keep the electrodes apart from the rest of the phone.   As described by Apple execs in the reveal, the latest home button follows the patent description, as it announced that the new sensor technology will allow users to unlock the new iPhone and to make purchases and enter passwords with just the touch of a finger.

Importantly, one way in which the patent differs from what we saw manifested in the reveal of the iPhone 5s is its lack of NFC, or near field communication technology.  The patent describes a technology that allows users of two different devices to share information between their two phones by just touching their home buttons together, similar to Samsung’s “bumping” feature.  While it was anticipated that this part of the patent would be incorporated into the new 5s, it was not.  Perhaps Apple is  planning to develop the technology more fully for use in future iPhones, or maybe it is simply giving Apple enthusiasts one more thing to ponder.  Apple is hoping that the new fingerprint technology will add an element to the iPhone that helps it compete against rival Samsung which has been taking market share from Apple.  The newer less is expensive 5c model is also meant to help Apple better compete with more price sensitive consumers in foreign markets.

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Posted in: Patent Registration