Apple has patented scanning technology that would allow a fingerprint sensor to function through an iPhone’s display, lending new credibility to rumors that the company will be doing away with the home button in next year’s iPhone. The new technology uses a series of electrostatic lenses to focus fingerprint scans that would otherwise become too blurred to use for identification purposes. While the new system would allow the sensor to be placed behind the display, Apple notes a “drive ring” is still needed to supply voltage to a user’s finger for the scan, presenting a quandary for the company if it wants to entirely eliminate the stationary home button in favor of expanding the usable surface area of the screen.
Last month The New York Times cited anonymous Apple sources who claimed that the next iPhone will feature a “full-screen face with the virtual button built directly into the screen.” The iPhone 7 is already helping to wean users off the traditional home button experience, switching from a physical button press to a haptic feedback sensation which mimics the click. The same haptic feedback is used in the latest iPhone screens, and could replicate a similar experience anywhere on the display. [via Apple Insider]