Apple is at it again, with the filing of a new patent with the US Patent and Trademark office. This one is for an under-display sensor technology that could revolutionise biometrics and gesture control in iPhones and Apple Watches.
As first reported by the observant individuals over at Patently Apple, the filing describes the use of a quantum film infrared sensor. It is designed to generate sensor data based on received infrared light, which is then processed by control circuitry to perform proximity sensing, capture images of external objects, identify facial features, track object location, and detect physical gestures.
Exciting possibilities for under-display sensor technology
In layman’s terms, this could mean the end of unsightly notches and cutouts on our Apple device screens. The sensors are seamlessly integrated into the display with this technology, resulting in a cleaner and more modern look. It could also mean the end of the home button in favour of a fully touch-enabled screen.
This advancement may pave the way for more advanced and intuitive features allowing us to interact with our devices in a more natural fashion. The tech under the screen would be able to utilise Face and Touch ID, along with iris recognition. It might even able to interpret a user’s hand gestures.
Another possibility is the implementation of a multiple authentication approach. For example Touch ID in conjunction with Face ID could be especially useful in cases where one of these may not function properly. It adds another layer of security. And that can only be a good thing.
The challenges ahead
Of course, as with any new technology, there are challenges that lie ahead. Due to a variety of sensor-related issues, display tech expert and analyst Ross Young believes that implementing under-panel Face ID technology may not be feasible until at least 2025. Apple’s engineering teams are working hard on ways to overcome these obstacles and determine the best way to implement the technology.
So don’t expect this tech to be included in the upcoming iPhone 15 or other high-end phones in the near future. Also, don’t expect to see it in the Series 9 watch in September.
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While the patent for under-display sensor technology hints at exciting possibilities for the future of iPhones and Apple Watches, it is important to note that just because there’s a patent doesn’t mean the technology will necessarily be used. Apple files a large number of patents every year, and has in fact filed ten patents since 2020 on Touch and/or Face ID tech.
Many of these don’t make it into commercially viable products. Some are just ideas, while others may be impossible or impractical to implement. It is also possible that Apple will decide to postpone the technology’s implementation or abandon the idea entirely.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can review the patent application in full. It goes under the moniker US 20230087411 A1 with the US Patent and Trademark office and can be reviewed here.
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