A new patent filing by Apple suggests that the fingerprint sensor in iPhone 5S could be combined with NFC for the rumored iWallet technology. Near Field Communications (or NFC) supports data transmission over short ranges, perfect for financial transactions.
Recent photo of the alleged iPhone 5S packaging revealed that the upcoming iPhone 5S home button will have silver ring around it to act as a sensor to read your fingerprints. Now, the patent which was filed back in March 2012 contains artwork which resembles the home button of iPhone 5S. The patent explores the possibility to embed NFC circuitry below the home button.
Contactless payment system is not widespread in the US, however it has seen significant adoption in the UK, South-East Asian and mainland Europe. Apple has in the past not shown any interest in NFC publicly but, the company continues to make investment in “iWallet” product.
An electronic device may have electrical components such as sensors. A sensor may have sensor circuitry that gathers sensor data using a conductive structure. The sensor may be a touch sensor that uses the conductive structure to form a capacitive touch sensor electrode or may be a fingerprint sensor that uses the conductive structure with a fingerprint electrode array to handle fingerprint sensor signals. Near field communications circuitry may be included in an electronic device. When operated in a sensor mode, the sensor circuitry may use the conductive structure to gather a fingerprint or other sensor data. When operated in near field communications mode, the near field communications circuitry can use the conductive structure to transmit and receive capacitively coupled or inductively coupled near field communications signals. A fingerprint sensor may have optical structures that communicate with external equipment.
The European patent application has just been assigned to Apple which has lead many to speculate if Apple will indeed introduce NFC capable iPhone 5S. Contactless payment is a faster and easier to make payment when compared with the swiping, signing or entering pin method. However, risk about losing an NFC device capable of making financial transactions is certainly one of the disadvantages. NFC combined with fingerprint sensor could provide the ultimate security to authenticate any financial transaction.
Apple is known to adopt new technology only after thinking about its usefulness. It’s possible that the company stayed away from NFC until the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone.
iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C are rumored to be unveiled at a keynote event at a special media event on September 10th. Do you think iPhone 5S will finally include NFC? Let us know what you think in the comments below.