A new patent application published recently by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has revealed that Apple is thinking of incorporating fingerprint sensors into the display stack of an electronic device such as an iPad or iPhone. This is an alternative system to the current Touch ID system used by Apple in the home buttons of its recent devices including iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.
The patent is titled “Fingerprint Sensor in an Electronic Device” explaining that a single fingerprint could be captured on the display at a single pre-determined fixed location or at any location. Even multiple touches on the electronic display could be captured, one fingerprint at a time or all fingerprints at once. The fingerprint sensor could be integrated into the circuit attached either to the cover sheet’s bottom surface or near the bottom surface or to the top surface of the display.
Alternatively, the whole panel could also be implemented as a fingerprint sensor which Apple calls as “full panel fingerprint sensor”. This full panel fingerprint sensor could also function as a touch sensing device. This means that the device can detect touch inputs as well as scan fingerprints.
For example, to unlock an iPhone or iPad or a third-party app, the user may be asked to place their finger on a specific spot depicted by an icon or an image on the display screen for identity verification. Apple could even use an advanced system that can scan and identify multiple fingerprints placed anywhere on the screen. Scanning more than one or all fingerprints would provide additional security.
If interested, you can get more details about the patent at the USPTO site patent application no. 20150036065.