What you need to know

  • An Apple patent published today has revealed how the laser tech behind Face ID could revolutionize iOS typing.
  • The patent shows how lasers could monitor a display for touch inputs.
  • It would increase the accuracy of iOS keyboards, and could even allow for touch-typing.

An Apple patent published today has revealed how the laser technology at the heart of Face ID could also be used to track touch inputs on a display so as to revolutionize typing on a touch-screen display.

As reported by AppleInsider, the patent is titled "Self-Mixing Interference Based Sensors for Characterizing Touch Input", and is focused around VCSEL (vertical-cabity surface-emitting lasers). These lasers could be housed in a display. By emmitting light, they could measure a display surface to track touch inputs, improving the accuracy of what's recorded. According to the report:

Each VCSEL emits a beam of "coherent light" towards the surface being monitored, which is reflected and mixed in with other coherent light beams at a variety of angles into other sensors. The number of angles is important, as the deflection of the display surface can alter the angle of reflection, which means the reception of specific light beams by other sensors can inform the system of how much deflection there is.

The system can be improved further still, by performing spectrum analysis on measured detections of multiple sensors to determine a speed of movement and the direction of movement. This can include reading multiple harmonic frequencies at different stages, which can also infer movement.

By measuring deflection, the system could determine not only where you are pressing, but how much pressure is being applied, similar to 3D touch. As AppleInsider notes, this feature could be engineered to ignore touches below a certain level of pressure. This could mean that a user might be able to rest their fingers on the touch screen without triggering an input, to allow for touch-typing.

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Of course, filing a patent doesn't guarantee that this tech will ever feature in an iOS device of the future. However, this patent certainly is among the less outlandish and more applicable patents we've seen.

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