Patent application hints at greater use, functionality for Touch ID button

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Date: Thursday, February 4th, 2016, 12:58
Category: News, Patents

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This could lead to something interesting.

A recently published patent application describes how the Touch ID home button could gain additional functionality, allowing it to perform different actions in response to different fingerprints, as well as adding pressure sensors to provide it with 3D Touch type functionality.

The patent hints at how it might allow different fingerprints to access a device, but restrict their access to particular apps and for a limited time. The obvious application here would be allowing a child to use only specific apps and/or limit the time they are allowed to use a device.


A previous Apple patent described how a specific finger could be used to activate a ‘panic button’ feature.

Pressure sensors could also determine what the device does when unlocked, for example immediately opening a particular application when unlocked with a hard press. The home button could also be used to control apps once unlocked.

The user can have a different effect presented in response to a relatively soft touch, in contrast with a relatively hard touch. For a second example, the user can have a different effect presented based on an analog measure of applied force, such as an attempt to turn a dial or wheel, or push or turn a joystick, in a gaming application.

The patent describes how the Touch ID button could both register how hard the button had been pressed as well as what direction the pressure had been applied in, suggesting use of the Touch ID button as a joystick.

However, it also goes beyond talk of a home button and seemingly describes how the principles could also be applied to a trackpad to allow many more gestures than currently supported.

If applied, a gesture, fingerprint or applied force could equate to tapping, pressing, rocking, scrubbing, twisting, changing orientation, pressing with varying pressure and the like at essentially the same time, contiguously, or consecutively. A gesture, fingerprint, or applied force may be characterized by, but is not limited to a pinching, sliding, swiping, rotating, flexing, dragging, or tapping motion between or with any other finger or fingers. A single gesture may be performed with one or more hands, by one or more users, or any combination thereof.

Granted, this is all theoretical at this point and it’s hard to say what Apple might use this for, if it uses the technology at all.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office

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