It has been widely speculated that the rumoured fingerprint sensor Apple may include with the iPhone 5S was to form a new touch-sensitive home button, but a patent has been uncovered offers some insight into just what Apple may have up their sleeve.

iphone 5s Fingerprint

About a year ago Apple acquired a mobile security firm called AuthenTec and all has gone quiet since, but is seems work has continued in the background on a new patent that will allow Apple to build a fingerprint sensor directly into the touchscreen on the iPhone 5S.

The U.S Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application to Apple based on work conducted by AuthenTec’s co-founder for a chip that can be embedded in a mobile device that will sense fingerprints on the display. This will enable the user to be authenticated based on the input, thus providing access to the device.

When using a semiconductor fingerprint sensor, or integrated circuit fingerprint sensor, in a portable electronic device, for example, a mobile telephone, it may be desirable to locate the integrated circuit of the fingerprint sensor separately from the finger sensing region. Separating the finger sensing integrated circuit (IC) from the finger sensing area may be particularly advantageous when the finger sensing area is relatively thin and transparent so that it may be placed over the top of a display of the portable electronic device, and wherein the IC may be located in a nearby non-display region of the portable electronic device.

iPhone 5S – Slide to Identify?

As mentioned, much assumption circled around a fingerprint sensor forming part of the home button, but with this new patent it could partner with Apple’s slide to unlock to offer an added layer of security. This theory has also gained backing since the iOS 7 redesign of the UI and in particular the lockscreen itself, as it is seemingly now more suited to a fingerprint detection mechanism.

Of course, as with anything, there is an alternate side to all this; Apple has just filed a patent because it can – much like hundreds of other unused patents to protect the technology. But with all ideas pointing to a fingerprint solution, together with the redesigned lockscreen of iOS 7, the patent may have just revealed the iPhone 5S’s killer feature – a fingerprint scanner built directly into the touchscreen.