With Touch ID, Apple brought fingerprint unlocking and mobile payments to the iPhone. And it may soon extend that to its MacBooks and iMacs, an invention from the company reveals.
Apple Inc. was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Tuesday titled “Finger Sensing Apparatus Using Hybrid Matching and Associated Methods,” which details an invention that uses an embedded fingerprint reader on a keyboard as way to log in to a MacBook or iMac. As in its iPhones, Apple would use encryption to protect the fingerprint data read by the sensor.
But unlike Apple Pay on the iPhone and iPad, the invention doesn’t explicitly extend to other services, such as digital and online payments.
Apple first filed the patent as early as 2007. But Microsoft beat it to the punch in getting a similar invention to market. During a press event last Tuesday, the Windows maker unveiled several products, including a Surface Pro 4 keyboard cover, complete with built-in fingerprint reader. In addition, Microsoft is exploring another way to log in to a computer and mobile phone, by way of retina scanning.
As with most of Apple’s granted patents and applications, it’s unknown if or when it plans to roll out the invention to its desktop and laptop computers. Apple credits engineers Michael Boshra, Robert Scott Brandt, Jeffrey C. Lee, Gregory Thomas Minteer, Gary S. Porter, Peter E. Sherlock, Andrew J. Vandamia and James R. Waldron for the invention.
For now built-in fingerprint logins are nowhere to be seen on Apple’s MacBooks. But third-party apps, such as MacID, can enable a surrogate feature, by using the user's existing iPhone’s Touch ID sensor instead.