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Fingerprint Scanner- the Next Big Thing on iPhone

Think different. That’s what Apple believes in and that’s what makes its product ‘iDiosyncratic’.

Multi-Touch. Facetime. Siri. Wonder what’s next?

Well, according to reports emerging over the Internet, the next big thing to come to iPhone after Siri could be 2D fingerprint scanner.

Apple had struck a deal with AuthenTec in July to commercialize 2D fingerprint sensors. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission made yesterday, if shareholders approve the deal Apple is willing to buy the firm for $356 million. This would be Apple’s biggest merger in its 36 year history. That just shows how serious Apple is about putting this project in to reality.

“Terms of the deal included provisions for the company’s patents, control of its fingerprint sensors, touchchips and security technologies, but much of the detail was missing from AuthenTec’s document at the time.”,The Next Web reported.

Apple was in talks with AuthenTec since a long time, perhaps since late 2011. Reportedly, representatives of Apple and AuthenTec had met in February to strike a licensing deal, but Apple backed out at the last moment citing some issues.  Both companies were unable to reach terms on IP (Intellectual property) issues, as Apple wished to extend the boundary to the point where it can develop and claim this technology as its very own. Apple also required sincere support of their engineering team which would need to comply with their standards in development of future Apple products. AuthenTec however had different ideas. Though it was ready to work with Apple, it believed Apple was underpaying them. The issue nevertheless was revolved, with Apple agreeing to pay $20 million for IP agreement and $115 million as licensing fee for using AuthenTec’s patents.

Apple seemed to be in little hurry. Perhaps, they were over-enthusiastic about bringing the new technology to iPhone. With reports suggesting that it could launch the next-gen iPhone and a 7.85 inch iPad on September 12, Apple has very less time to embed this technology into their avant-garde devices.

Fingerprint scanner would fit in perfectly with it’s much talked about and appreciated iOS 6 feature- Passbook.  Passbook is a digital wallet for storing tickets, coupons and loyalty cards. Fingerprint scanning alongside could be used to verify instated payments, ensuring that only authorized users can trigger funds transfer. Hence, a Fingerprint scanner would add another security layer to iPhone’s already robust architecture.

Though Apple might not be working on it for now, the NFC feature could also be used to enhance security and provide interaction with NFC based smart-tags.

The above cited agreement does not explicitly state the provision of NFC but there are indications that it would be embedded implicitly. This could be attested from the fact that AuthenTec announced on May 8, 2012 “its first smart sensor specifically tailored for secure NFC mobile commerce.” The product was a new 192 pixel by 8 pixel fingerprint sensor that included “hybrid fingerprint matching, AES, RSA and SHA encryption blocks, and One Time Password (OTP) generation.”

AuthenTec has been providing millions of fingerprint sensors to desktop PCs and peripherals since many years. Considering Apple’s comprehensive computer line-up, there is nothing better AuthenTec could have asked for. Their technology could thereby pave way into millions of computers, tablets and smartphones worldwide.

Android introduced Face recognition in Jellybeans, altogether a new phone unlocking technology. Apple can work with AuthenTec to bring Fingerprint recognition to lock-screens. That would be the perfect sucker punch.

Apple has already claimed this technology as its own IP (intellectual property). That could possibly imply that no manufacturer would be able to embed fingerprint scanners to their smartphones. If someone attempts to use this technology even from a different manufacturer, Apple would start playing the game it loves playing the most. We wonder though, if that’s the way to go.

Would Apple be able to raise the bar with this new technology? Does the thought of having fingerprint scanner in your iPhone excite you?

Let us know!

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