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iPhone 8 to replace Touch ID with acoustic imaging

iPhone 8 Concept Art
Image Credit: Moe Slah

The iPhone 8’s fingerprint reader has been the star of numerous leaks for the past few months, with many wondering what exactly Apple is planning to do to make up for the fact that there probably won’t be a physical home button on the handset. Possible explanations so far include the addition of biometric options like an iris scanner or face recognition.

A new Apple patent adds yet another possibility to the mix. It bears the title ‘Acoustic Imaging System Architecture’ and talks about using a system of transducers beneath a display to generate acoustic waves. The hardware then monitors the reflections caused due to foreign objects and creates a 2D map.

The method has various applications, one of them being acting as a fingerprint scanner. If utilized, the patent could replace Touch ID in its current capacitive form. Interestingly, the acoustic technology can be installed anywhere on a device. Apple could theoretically place it underneath an iPhone’s screen, on the rear chassis, around buttons, or on a bezel.

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Setting it up on the back may even allow an iPhone to sample a person’s entire handprint. The document mentions that the system can be configured to scan a person’s ear or skin pattern to establish where the smartphone is being held. As a result, the acoustic tech would be able to replace proximity sensors found on current iPhones.

Apple filed for the Acoustic Imaging System Architecture patent back in August last year. There’s no way to know for certain whether the company plans to implement it in the OLED iPhone 8 as of now. Previous patents have hinted at a light-based optical fingerprint solution which also works beneath a layer of glass.