In-display fingerprint sensors have been a thing of the future for years. Imagine not having to awkwardly reach around your phone to stroke your digit across one specific spot on the back or side - instead, you could press your handset's screen to unlock it, complete a payment or whatever else you might need to do.
Manufacturers have shown the tech off at trade shows, but it's never appeared in a product. Earlier this year it looked like the sensors might finally be set to arrive, with rumours pointing to them in Samsung's Galaxy S8 and the iPhone X - but, as we now know, it wasn't to be.
Great news from Synaptics, then, which is putting its Clear ID in-screen sensor into mass production. Designed for all phones with a bezel-free (infinity) display, Clear ID can detect fingerprints even if the screen is wet or scratched and is said to be faster than other biometric security like face recognition.
Fingerprint scanners have attracted their share of criticism for insecurity. A scan or even a high-quality photo of a user's fingers can be enough to fool most sensors, but Synaptics claims that that won't be possible for the Clear ID components. Its SentryPoint product bundles together technologies including PurePrint, which claims to be able to distinguish between spoofs and actual fingers using AI; Quantum Matcher, for adaptive fingerprint template matching and authentication; and SecureLink, which combines support for TLS protocol with ECC authentication and AES encryption.
Synaptics says that it is working with a ‘top five' OEM, which suggests an Android manufacturer; possibly Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi or Vivo. It is unlikely to be Apple, which, aside from using its own in-house solution for Touch ID, is said to be abandoning fingerprint technology in favour of Face ID for 2018 handsets.
Kevin Barber, senior vice president and general manager, Mobile Division, Synaptics said: "Consumers prefer fingerprint authentication on the front of the phone, and with the industry quickly shifting to bezel-free OLED infinity displays, the natural placement of the fingerprint sensor is in the display itself. Synaptics' Clear ID fingerprint sensors are faster, more convenient, and more secure than alternative biometrics, and this optical technology represents a major innovation shift and opportunity for the smartphone market."
Synaptics will demonstrate the new sensor at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.
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