In recent months, the iPhone rumor mill has been in full swing, with many fans of the device expecting the new model to appear sometime this fall. One of these rumors, touting the possibility of an embedded fingerprint scanner in the next version of the device, didn't seem quite in keeping with Apple's tendency towards simplicity and aversion to gimmicks.
However, a new patent application indicates that the rumors may indeed be rooted in truth. Late last year, an Apple patent was revealed that would allow users to use their display screens to access their devices. But this new method would rely on touching the edge of your device instead, a dynamic that would likely be more practical for mobile devices already pushed their limits in terms of the underpinnings of screen technology.
Originally filed in February, the patent described the mechanism by stating, "in operation, a user swipes a finger over a surface of the sensor. The sensor captures a number of thin strips of the fingerprint as the finger is swiped, and the complete fingerprint is assembled in software for use in authentication." In those terms, suddenly a fingerprint scanner in the next iPhone doesn't sound so outlandish.
As for whether or not this technology will ever make to an actual handset is another matter entirely. But if it does, this description appears to be in keeping with the simplicity and elegance of design Apple is known for. You can read more of the patent's details here.