Afraid someone over your shoulder just figured out your four-digit passcode on your brand new iPhone 5? This won't matter if Apple makes use of its recently approved fingerprint patent.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just granted Apple a two-step unlock screen patent that incorporates a fingerprint reader into the bottom right corner of an iOS device.
Illustrations shows a familiar slide-to-unlock screen on an iPhone, followed by a new prompt that asks the owner to place his or her thumb on top of a window situated next to the home button.
Interestingly, PatentlyApple suggests that the new security window may blend into the iPhone, as it changes "between opaque and transparent configurations using a polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) window."
Apple's symmetrical iPhone design would remain intact.
Eyes, ears and e-commerce
There's more to this security-focused patent than the fingerprint homepage unlock screen.
Smiling from ear-to-ear is illustrated as an alternate method of getting beyond the homepage unlock screen. Additionally, eye recognition acts as another owner-only way of accessing the device.
Beyond getting past the homescreen, the illustrations detail the ability to sign-off on e-Commerce purchases. The drawing doesn't specify whether these secure transactions can be performed online, offline, or both.
Patent ties into Apple's recent acquisitions
This scifi-like method of verifying one's identity is in line with Apple's recent purchases of two security firms.