Much like OS X began at NeXT and multitouch began with Fingerworks, Touch ID began with a company Apple bought, namely AuthenTec. They did fingerprint identification sensors smarter and better than anyone had done them before, and that got Apple's attention. But what exactly had Apple seen? Well, AuthenTec cofounder F. Scott Moody has just shown off an early prototype. Speaking at North Carolina State University's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Tuesday night, he explained exactly how the technology behind Touch ID reads fingerprints, and talked for a bit about how it came about. At one point, Moody showed the audience an early prototype of Touch ID, called FingerLoc. Via AppleInsider:
The first version of AuthenTec's fingerprint sensor wasn't quite as elegant as the tiny scanner found underneath the iPhone 5s home button. Moody brought with him the FingerLoc, an early predecessor to Touch ID, which came in a large box much bigger than an iPhone. And that box was connected via a ribbon cable to an even larger device that powered it.
Early demos of FingerLoc used a hole in a desk, with the device underneath the desk, only the fingerprint sensor itself exposed to users to convey AuthenTec's intention, to make easy-to-use, embeddable sensor that would find its way onto smaller device. The ultimate goal of the FingerLoc project was to make the lives of users easier. When they began showing off their work to larger companies, Apple was particularly impressed, and eventually, they purchased AuthenTec in July 2012 for $356 million.
Touch ID made its debut last month on Apple's iPhone 5s. If you've used it, let me know if you think it was worth all the effort AuthenTec and Apple put into it!