The concept, Patently Apple reports, is called Man-machine interface for controlling access to electronic devices and was first filed in March 2015.
The man-machine interface device comprises an electronic display apparatus that is capable of presenting graphic text, images, icons, and other data typically shown on a screen, while further including a transparent finger touch sensor region that is seated above the display apparatus.
One of them — the most accurate but least common type — is called ultrasound imaging, and it would mean a fingerprint reader embedded in a display.
In this type of sensor, two transducers are placed on the x- and y-axes of a plate of glass one each for receiving and transmitting for propagating ultrasound waves through a glass plate; when the finger is placed on top of the glass, the finger impedes the waves and the receiving transducer can measure the alteration in wave patterns, the patent notes.
It adds that although this kind of scanner is new and for the most part untested, initial results show promise .
One report recently suggested that the iPhone 7 might come without a home button, but given the timing of the patent these things can take years to become integrated into consumer products that seems unlikely.