Monday, October 21, 2013

Oh, patents! Apple Touch ID

© Françoise Herrmann
 Apple’s new Iphone 5S comes equipped with new Touch ID technology. This technology, is designed to give you access to your Iphone without “sliding to unlock”, using a finger print sensor under the home button. 
The patent application for Touch ID technology, US20130271422 (A1),was published just a few days ago, on October 17, 2013!
Touch ID technology is called “Capacitive sensing array modulation”, and the scope of the invention extends to other devices, which means that you may find similar capacitive sensors with your next Macbook or Ipad enabling you to login with your finger print instead of typing in your password. And that’s a huge deal… on many counts… chiefly because typing in passwords is very time consuming, and you probably have too many passwords to remember…
Capacitive or “touchscreen” technology, is the touch-driven technology that revolutionized interfacing with computers, tablets and smartphones, once Apple started to build it into the screens of its first Iphone.
How does a capacitive fingerprint sensor work, and what is the technical problem addressed with Apple’s Touch ID tech?
Capacitive sensors produce a fingerprint image by measuring the capacitance, or amount of electric charge, between each sensing element of the sensor, and the fingerprint’s fleshy ridges and valleys, with capacitance inversely proportional to the separation distance. Thus, the capacitance of fingerprint fleshy ridges is higher than the capacitance of the fleshy valleys.
The trick in obtaining a clear finger print image lies partly in the right amount of voltage, or flesh excitability. When the voltage of the sensing elements is too high, the sensing creates an uncomfortable physical sensation for the user (i.e., an electric shock), and when it is too low, the capacitance readings yield a blurry image.
Apple’s invention consists in resolving this issue, with a capacitive array sensing technology that provides high voltage resolution without shocking the user’s finger (!)
So, the Iphone 5S probably started a whole new way of accessing your computers, tablets and smartphones. Bye bye “slide and unlock”, bye-bye passwords…(finally)!
Below is the Touch ID patent application abstract and an Apple Iphone Touch ID set up screen:

 Abstract -US20130271422 (A1)
 Capacitive sensing array modulation
A capacitive fingerprint sensor that may be formed of an array of sensing elements. Each capacitive sensing element of the array may register a voltage that varies with the capacitance of a capacitive coupling. A finger may capacitively couple to the individual capacitive sensing elements of the sensor, such that the sensor may sense a capacitance between each capacitive sensing element and the flesh of the fingerprint. The capacitance signal may be detected by sensing the change in voltage on the capacitive sensing element as the relative voltage between the finger and the sensing chip is changed. Alternately, the capacitance signal may be detected by sensing the change in charge received by the capacitive sensing elements as the relative voltage between the finger and the sensing chip is changed.
Inventors :Jean-Marie Bussat, Steven Hotelling, and Benjamin Lyon
Source: Only at the USPTO…! Select icon that will display with blog

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