Apple was granted a whopping 18 patents on Tuesday states a PatentlyApple article. Included in the batch are iOS Maps and Compass app design patents, a patent for the iPhone 4's stainless steel band and another one for reducing wait times in call centers. However, the most interesting patent from the group appears to allow a touch display to act as a space-saving RFID tag reader.
Apple states that its reason for embedding an RFID tag reader into a touch display is so that the display could also function as an RFID transponder, which would save space since no other RFID antennas would be necessary. Apple envisions many uses for this touch display-embedded responder, including allowing your iPhone to double as a badge reader. Such a reader would perhaps even allow for eventual replacement of employee security badges, such as those worn by Apple employees on the Cupertino campus. One could simply swipe their iPhone to enter a secured area. Other uses include the obvious credit and debit card payment systems and data sharing features, such as when you want to quickly swap contact information with others.
While it's generally accepted that RFID and NFC functions are going to become part of a smartphone's everyday use in coming years, it's nice to see Apple is constantly finding ways to add new tech to iPhones while at the same time reducing the device's physical size.