Leading companies in the smartphone biometrics industry are hard at work trying to bring fingerprint sensors into the glass displays of mobile devices.
As Synaptics’ Anthony Gioeli suggests in a post on the company’s blog, the effort is largely driven by a desire to extend the reach of the display across the front of a smartphone. Currently, most phones’ screens are limited somewhat by the presence of a home button, which generally features an embedded fingerprint scanner, and a camera. While there isn’t currently an obvious way around the camera issue, some companies have eliminated the home button commonly at the bottom end of a phone’s bezel by placing it on the device’s backside. The problem there, according to Gioeli, is that it can hurt the user experience – he writes that “some China OEM studies revealed that such designs were deemed too awkward and even difficult to use”.
That’s why it’s so important to develop a sensor that can be embedded under glass and into a device’s display. LG Innotek took a significant step in this direction earlier this year when it announced its first under-glass fingerprint sensor module. Apple, meanwhile, has demonstrated its exploration of this area with patent filings, the most recent of which describing a system of embedding its Touch ID fingerprint scanning system into the iPhone’s display, and using ‘electrostatic lenses’ to magnify the user’s fingerprint.
While these are all just first steps, they point the way toward in-display fingerprint scanning, with major OEMs so fixated on the idea that it seems almost inevitable it will be realized. In fact, industry-leading sensor supplier Fingerprint Cards today announced its own under-glass sensor, which has already been integrated into a new Hauwei smartphone, the Mate 9 Porche Design.
November 3, 2016 – by Alex Perala