Mobile technology is evolving quickly, and it's always interesting to get a glimpse of what's in the pipeline for future smartphones (aside from the obvious faster processors, improved displays, more efficient batteries and the like).
The latest patent from Sony involves the use of technology which checks the phone user's fingerprint via the touchscreen display. That represents a beefy extra level of security in terms of locking the smartphone to its owner.
The BBC reports that the tech would utilise a "light-transmissive display" to allow sensors to look out from behind the display and detect the fingerprint. An "unidentified" material would obscure the sensor from the user's view, so as not to blemish the phone's aesthetics.
As the Beeb notes, fingerprint technology isn't new, having been used on laptops already, and indeed smartphones as seen with Motorola's innovative Atrix. Sony's solution is much neater than Motorola's rear-mounted scanner, however, given that it won't make any visible impact on the phone's sleek lines. It would also be easier to use.
The patent notes: "[The technology would] allow even a user who is not familiar with the fingerprint authentication to readily execute an input manipulation for the fingerprint authentication."
Furthermore, Sony's concept could allow for the front-facing camera to be stowed away underneath the screen, leaving room to expand the phone's display to an even larger size. Using the camera would also feel more natural, as you'd be looking at both the display and directly into the camera lens at the same time.