Apple could ditch iPhone Touch ID scanners in favor of 'acoustic imaging'

Security is looking as though it will be particularly high on the agenda for the iPhone 8 and beyond. Apple pundits and rumor spinners are already putting a facial recognition scanner top of the feature list, and now it looks like big changes are coming to the fingerprint scanning tech, too.

That's according to a patent filing that describes where Apple expects security technology to go next. It details 'acoustic imaging system architecture', which could replace the existing Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

It'd do this by building a series of layers, sensitive to different conditions, into the screen. One would generate acoustic waves, while another would monitor reflections or obstructions to the waves (e.g. your finger positioned on the screen), which would send the data back to an image analysis system that could identify a 2D map of the screen surface.

Fingertips to earlobes

Essentially, this map is expected to be detailed enough to be able to discern fingerprint ridges, allowing Apple to remove the home button scanner completely if successfully implemented.

This would potentially allow for slimmer, smaller phones – or even for the extra space created to serve as more screen real estate.

There's potential for the system to replace the proximity sensors in a device too, with the acoustic waves theoretically able to identify the difference in surface contact between a phone touched by a finger and one held to an ear.

As ever, a patent is no indication of a product in development – it's simply Apple protecting its ideas. But with the rumors of facial recognition tech also circulating, acoustic imaging could make for a complete, new approach to security for the company.

Via: Apple Insider