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Your fingers will most likely be safe with Touch ID

With the iPhone 5s coming out this Friday some skeptics have wondered if the new fingerprint sensor will lead to a rise in gruesome crimes -- fingers getting chopped off by thieves so they can steal your phone and unlock it, too. While it's hard to imagine that somebody would even do such a thing, could there be some truth in the idea that a removed finger is key to unlocking a stolen phone?

We recently brought this up in a discussion here on gdgt. When talking about the technology behind the fingerprint sensor of the iPhone 5s, the idea that your freshly manicured digits could be at risk was addressed. If our fingers might be the key to all our important information, or even to selling a stolen phone, would the temptation to remove our fingers be too great?

Breathe a sigh of relief, because the answer appears to be no. The imaging sensor that reads your fingerprints doesn't just look at the surface layer of your fingerprint; it actually looks at the subdermal layers, which are still alive. Because of this, the finger needs to still be attached in order to be read correctly.

Because of this difference in technology from older fingerprint readers you might have used at work or in the gym, it can't be easily fooled by fingerprints that have been lifted and faked, or (in the case we're talking about) by chopped off fingers.

This could become more important in the coming years. While Apple's Touch ID is currently only featured on the top-of-the-line iPhone 5s where it can be used to unlock your phone or pay for iTunes and App Store purchases, the rest of the industry may not be far behind.

According to CITEworld, we'll likely see fingerprint sensors on many new smartphones using similar technologies. Microsoft even demoed Windows 8.1 using a fingerprint sensor, adding validity to the idea that it may soon become a standard of security and personal identification.

While this might cause you to relax your fists in relief, we can only hope that the companies in charge of such advancements will consider what it might mean to consumers who would probably rather protect their appendages over their new phones. Or maybe they can just sell colorful finger protectors to match.

Photo: Tsahi Levent-Levi