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Apple patent filing shows future potential of Touch ID not tied to a button

A patent filing made public today stems directly from the Apple purchase of biometric company AuthenTec, and could lead to future iPhones and iPads using part or all of the touchscreen to act a Touch ID sensor.

The patent filing describes more in detail the possibility of a buttonless TouchID implementation that has been rumored for a 2017 anniversary iteration of the iPhone. Additionally, the patent also suggests a conceivable implementation of the entire display acting as the Touch ID sensor.

The patent is attributed directly to Apple, and uses no shell company to obscure ownership, as is suspected is the case with wireless earbuds known as "AirPods." The primary inventor is Dale R. Setlak, co-founder of biometric company AuthenTec.

AuthenTec was purchased by Apple in August 2012 for $356 million, after multiple electronics developers expressed interest in the company's technologies, including what would become the Touch ID sensor.

The 2017 edition of the iPhone, which would commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the device, is said to have not only the Touch ID sensor embedded in the display, but also the front-facing camera, and the speaker.

Artist's renditions of the rumored device place a physical button at the bottom of the screen. However, should Apple be able to implement the patent as shown in the filing today, no discrete button for Touch ID would be necessary.

Apple's made the initial patent filing for the whole-screen Touch ID implementation on January 27, 2015.