BARCELONA: Qualcomm debuted its ultrasonic Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint technology at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Monday, making the Galaxy S6 look instantly dated.
Qualcomm's fingerprint scanning system is based on sound waves, unlike the scanners found on the likes of the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6. The company claims that this makes the scanner much more accurate and secure than those already available commercially.
The scanner bounces ultrasonic waves off a finger, picking up the pattern and depth of contours, unlike current capacitive options which essentially use a mini camera to capture a print.
Qualcomm claims that the technology can extract a unique print, even down to the pores on the skin.
The sweatier the finger the more accurate the Sense ID's reading is likely to be, according to the firm, unlike the iPhone 6 TouchID sensor which will fail to recognise a print if a finger is sweaty or greasy.
We can vouch for this. After a few hours running around the seemingly never-ending, nor air-conditioned, MWC show floor, we thought it would be a good idea to put our greasy fingers to good use.
Asaf Ashkenazi, director of product management at Qualcomm, walked us through the process, which immediately struck us as a huge improvement over current fingerprint scanners.
As it is based on ultrasonic technology, the Snapdragon Sense ID 3D technology can read a fingerprint through any material, including glass, metal and sapphire.
The fingerprint scanner on the test device we handled wasn't immediately obvious as it's situated in the bezel. This means that, once the technology becomes available to OEMs, the sensors can be made much more discreet.
We were impressed with how accurately the scanner captured our prints. We could make out individual sweat pores after a mere fraction of a second - as you can see in the image above - although we were unable to see how quickly this will unlock a device as it is still in the early stages.
This accuracy is also useful when it comes to security. Ashkenazi told us that, unlike rival offerings, the Sense ID fingerprint technology cannot be fooled by synthetic prints as it captures the depth of ridges in minute detail.
What's more, fingerprints are not secured as part of the operating system, which means that, should there be a breach, this sensitive information cannot be pilfered.
Qualcomm also pointed out that different fingerprints can be allocated to different apps. For example, if several people are registered to one device, just one print can be selected to access the onboard banking application.
Ashkenazi said that the fingerprint scanning technology is based on the Fast Identification Online security standard which Microsoft recently announced will be supported in Windows 10. This means that the technology can interact with other devices using the same standard, and sees Qualcomm pushing to get rid of the traditional password.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint technology is expected to appear in devices in the second half of the year.
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