Apple has acquired nearly all the patents belonging to a biometric technology firm.
Apple now owns 26 of Privaris’s 31 original patents, CNN reports, which primarily relate to fingerprint and touchscreen technology, and could be used to improve Touch ID on iPhones and iPads. The intellectual property grab could relate to Apple’s plans to remove the iPhone’s physical home button, and build a multitouch display with integrated fingerprint technology so that the iPhone could switch to a virtual home button.
One of Privaris’ patents would let you use a touchscreen and fingerprint reader at the same time, CNN reports.
Armed with the ability to create a fingerprint scanner that resides beneath the iPhone’s touchscreen, but can still scan your finger through the phone’s display, Apple could finally be able to design an iPhone with an edge-to-edge screen.
However, Apple doesn’t always create the technology it patents itself of acquires elsewhere, and has already filed its own patent for a TouchID fingerprint sensor that sits underneath the touch screen of the iPhone or the iPad.
It is not entirely clear what the relationship between Apple and Privaris is now, or will be in the future. The last transaction between the two firms closed in October 2014, and Apple bought its first three Privaris patents at the end of 2012, CNN reports.
The CNN report takes the patent transfer as a sign of a planned acquisition. The company’s website also still lists Authentec, another biometric identity and security firm that Apple acquired in 2012, as a technology partner, Patently Apple reports.
However, MacRumours reports that Privaris essentially shut down about five years ago, so Apple could just be buying the firm’s intellectual property.
The company launched in 2001, raised $US19 million in funding, and created a range of key fob-sized biometric devices that authenticate your identity before you access buildings, computer systems, or payment terminals. Some of the patents included other biometric security systems. One of them could allow you to open a door by scanning your fingerprint using a smartphone.
The news section of the company’s site hasn’t been updated since 2009, and none of the company’s employees have changed their LinkedIn profiles to indicate that they now work at Apple.