Qualcomm Fingerprint Scanner Is Embedded Beneath A Smartphone Display

Qualcomm has revealed a fingerprint scanner designed to be installed underneath the displays of smartphones and tablets, rather than require a dedicated button.

The chip makers Snapdragon Sense ID fingerprint technology, revealed at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, works by emitting ultrasonic sound waves that are reflected off a person finger at different strengths corresponding to the pattern of their fingerprint.

The new technology was shown off working in a smartphone made by Chinese technology firm Vivo.

Below the glass

Traditionally, fingerprint scanner on smartphones either have a dedicated button on the handset or are integrated into the main home button of smartphones such as the iPhone 7.

But the positioning of the fingerprint scanner can be a sticking point for some phones, so having the ability to embed it below a display would go some way to mitigating those problems.

“We are excited to announce Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors because they can be designed to support sleeker, cutting-edge form factors, unique mobile authentication experiences, and enhanced security authentication,” said Seshu Madhavapeddy, vice president, product management at Qualcomm Technologies.

“This provides OEMs and operators with the ability to offer truly distinct, differentiated devices with added value on truly groundbreaking new devices.”

However, there are currently a few caveats with Snapdragon Sense ID; it only works with OLED displays, cannot be used with screens that are more than 0.8mm thick, and the technology is not likely to reach phone manufacturers until late 2017 or early 2018, meaning the likes of Apple could develop their own button-less fingerprint scanners before Qualcomm’s tech reaches the market.

Samsung was rumoured to have been developing an under-screen fingerprint sensor for its Galaxy S8 flagship but ended up opting for a fingerprint scanner mounted on the rear of the smartphone.

Regardless of who make it to the market first, the ability to embed fingerprint scanners below the display of mobile devices could help yield more innovative hardware designs and pave the way for near button-less smartphones in the near-future.

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Roland Moore-Colyer

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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