It looks as though Apple isn't totally giving up on Touch ID, despite going all-in on Face ID with its latest round of smartphones.

The company is still exploring fingerprint-based biometric authentication for its mobile devices, according to a patent published recently in the US and spotted by Apple Insider. It suggests Apple wants to update Touch ID with something called “acoustic pulse coding for imaging of input surfaces”, which means Apple is trying to convert audio signals into coded images of a user’s fingerprint.

The hope, as noted in the patent, is to improve traditional fingerprint sensors by eliminating the physical sensor and using a “number of acoustic transducers” to generate mechanical waves, acoustic waves, or pulses into the “user input surface in response to a signal from a controller". Basically, your fingerprint would contact these acoustic transducers and leave an audio imprint.

USPTO/Apple InsiderApples Next Version Of Touchid Could Use Sound To Scan Fingerprints image 2

This imprint would then be compared to a “database of known images or data” to determine if the biometric information is a match. Apple indicated this could be used to unlock financial information or even mapping the “biometrically-unique features of a user’s ear” with the help of an acoustic imaging system.

That could theoretically also allow Apple to equip an iPhone's full display with this fingerprint recognition tech. Imagine a completely bezel-less iPhone in the future with under-display facial and fingerprint scanning.

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