Samsung and Apple have both struggled to integrate fingerprint sensors into smartphone displays, creating workarounds like iris scanners and Face ID instead. The latter technologies are still big advancements in the mobile space, but the Holy Grail has been an invisible fingerprint sensor within your screen. That illusive tech has finally become a reality, but neither Samsung or Apple will be first. Synaptics announced on Tuesday that it has pioneered a way to mass produce fingerprint sensors integrated in smartphone displays and Vivo will be the first smartphone manufacturer to have it. Synaptics estimates that 70 million units can be produced in 2018.
The Synaptics Clear ID FS9500 fingerprint sensors are designed for smartphones with OLED displays, which are far more popular than their aging LCD counterpart. When you pick up the phone, a fingerprint image will appear at the bottom of the screen and disappear after using it. The way this works can be customized by companies and likely within the user settings of a particular device. The overall experience isn’t that much different than current front-facing fingerprint scanners, but it eliminates the need to put them on the back as modern screens are all but taking up the front. Many users still prefer using their fingerprint instead of iris scans and facial recognition, which doesn’t work if the phone is off to the side on a table or desk.
The new sensors operate through the display itself by one-touch, high-res optical scanning. This CMOS image sensor will work in virtually all conditions – cold or hot weather, completely dark rooms, with wet hands, etc. Synaptics claims that Clear ID is twice as fast as Apple’s Face ID and both more convenient and reliable. It’s also around three times less expensive than Face ID, so the overall cost of the phone won’t be inflated.
Synaptics emphasized that security isn’t compromised by the new tech, which should match the level of security of current fingerprint scanners on modern Android/Apple smartphones. SentryPoint technology will be part of the system, providing companies with a wide variety of highly secure authentication features. In addition, there’s Adaptive Quantum Matcher (adaptive fingerprint template matching) and authentication, PurePrint anti-spoof tech and SecureLink (a combination of TLS protocol support, ECC authentication and AES encryption). To put all of this in layman’s terms, good luck trying to fool this sensor.
Vivo will be the first smartphone maker to have Clear ID, and although you might not be familiar with the brand, they’re one of the top five smartphone vendors (excelling overseas). Pre-production units are already available for testing and they’re living up to the hype. Current prototypes need to be awakened by the power button before Clear ID can be used, but lift-to-wake and other tech should be available on production units.
Synaptics also announced the ClearView R66455 and R66451, which are new additions to its OLED display driver IC (DDIC) portfolio. This will help with processing for rounded corners and notches, smooth auto-dimming and support for extra long displays. Their OLED capabilities are also being improved with flexible gamma control, HDR support and a patented sub-pixel rendering technology. Apple and Samsung may be the big names in mobile tech, but Synaptics has just taken a giant leap over them with Clear ID. Hopefully rear fingerprint scanners will become a thing of the past, while facial recognition and iris scanners move to a more secondary position.