Apple has put in a bid to buy AuthenTec, a mobile security company specializing in fingerprint recognition. Apple has offered $356 million for the company, though the merger still awaits final approval from AuthenTec and the US government, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission Filing (link via NYT).
So what does this mean? Assuming the purchase happens, Apple could gain an edge in security. AuthenTec makes software to help people manage their digital identities, security processors, VPN security, NFC products, and fingerprint sensors that are quite robust. On its website, AuthenTec claims that its fingerprint sensor can independently remember all five of your fingers and can act as a touchpad as well. For instance, if you swiped your ring finger across the pad, it could automatically launch eBay, or another app of your choice.
Imagine if future iPhones and iPads had a round Home button with an embedded fingerprint sensor. It could be used to automatically launch an NFC Mobile Wallet app and as an added layer of authentication during any interaction. You would no longer need to unlock your phone. It could detect your thumb print and unlock for you. The sensor can also replace passwords for you. After all, a fingerprint is a better security measure than a password.
Future MacBooks could have this functionality built into their touchpads or somewhere nearby as well. If an Apple TV came out, this functionality could be integrated into the remote control, assuming there is one.
The original Motorola Atrix had a fingerprint sensor built into it (shown above). Motorola didn’t take full advantage of its potential, but you could unlock the phone with it.
The great thing about Apple potentially implementing a fingerprint sensor like this is that if it integrates it into the iPhone and opens it up for developers, many of them will begin to write apps and games that utilize it in new ways, enabling a whole wave of new innovation. This is thanks to there being only one iPhone. Android developers, on the other hand, never supported the Fingerprint sensor on the Atrix (assuming they could) because the Atrix is only one phone of hundreds of new Android devices.
(Image via Chestertan.com)