A newly uncovered patent application from Samsung Electronics details yet another on-screen fingerprint reader envisioned by the South Korean company which differs from some of its previous concepts by virtue of the fact it’s meant to be pressure-sensitive. Samsung’s documentation describes a scanner embedded into a small OLED panel, with its sketches predicting several possible positions of the sensor, some of which appear to be rather high, as evidenced by the gallery below. The patent application itself was filed by Samsung with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPRIS) in late March and has yet to be examined by the agency. Even if KIPRIS approves the patent, the procedure of doing so may extend well into 2018, as suggested by the office’s usual practices.
The sketches attached to the patent that can be seen below show the pressure-sensitive fingerprint scanner being embedded into what appears to be an Infinity Display-like panel of a device that resembles the Galaxy Note 8, though the handset is only illustrative in nature and not the subject of the application. The sensor is described as being capable of identifying different levels of pressure exerted on it, then use that information to either authenticate the user’s fingerprint or perform a particular action, essentially acting as a physical shortcut mechanism. Mobile payments solutions are specifically referenced as one possible application of the technology, though Samsung doesn’t specify whether the actual levels of pressure triggering different actions are designed to be customizable by the user even though that seems like a technologically feasible concept, provided that the fingerprint reader itself can be manufactured.
Being the largest smartphone maker on the planet and one of the world’s largest tech companies in general, Samsung’s patent portfolio is consistently growing in a rapid manner and the sole existence of the patent described above doesn’t guarantee that the company will ever commercialize it or that it even has any plans to do so in the first place. Likewise, the application doesn’t necessarily indicate that Samsung already has a working prototype of the creation that it describes. As is often the case with cutting-edge tech patents, Samsung’s technological capabilities may already be advanced enough to deliver a prototype its newly uncovered application describes but may take years before revising the device to the point that it’s ready for mass production.