[THE INVESTOR] Although a fingerprint sensing technology has taken mobile security up by a notch, it has long been pointed out that a biometric scanner, usually featured in the physical home button of a smartphone, compromises smartphone design.
Some smartphone makers alternatively moved the home button with a fingerprint reader to the right side or the back of a mobile device, like LG Electronics' V10 and Sony’s Xperia Z5.
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In a year or two, device makers would no longer need to sweat on hiding fingerprint scanners as they will soon go invisible and allow users to unlock their phone by resting their fingers on the smartphone screen, according to market watchers.
“The ultimate goal (for many smartphone and fingerprint technology firms) is to have the fingerprint sensor embedded under the smartphone screen,” said an industry official, who declined to be named.
“Such fingerprint-reading touch screen, forecast to be adopted in flagship smartphones as early as the latter half, will give smartphones a great design make-over.”
Smartphone manufacturers and fingerprint sensor and module makers have been working on fingerprint sensors embedded under a display for the past several years, and technology for the new type of biometric sensor is now considered mature enough for deployment.
Those companies developing the new sensing technology include Synaptics, CrucialTec, LG Innotek and LG Display.
Apple, which has filed patents for a screen capable of reading fingerprints, is rumored to roll out new iPhones, presumably the iPhone 8, featuring fingerprint sensors inside the organic light-emitting display.
“CrucialTec has been developing under-glass fingerprint sensors for years, and it will showcase the sensors at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, which will be held later this month,” said Kim Young-joo, a spokesperson from CrucialTec.
An industry official said a next-generation fingerprint scanner will allow users to identify themselves by placing not just one, but several fingers together on the smartphone screen, which will bring mobile security to a higher level.
Different from the existing fingerprint scanners that simply analyze fingerprints, a next-gen biometric reader will also be able to scan blood vessels and pick up heart rate, which can be effective in detecting the authenticity of fingerprints.
“The under-glass fingerprint scanner will bring change not only to smartphone design, but also to mobile user experience as it would enable users to restrict the use of each mobile application with the fingerprint technology,” said an official from a local display firm.
The conventional fingerprint scanners of premium smartphones, such as Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S series and Apple’s iPhones, were found to be vulnerable to hacking attempts using fake fingerprints.
Since it was first adopted in Apple’s iPhone in 2013, fingerprint scanners have been widely adopted in most high-end smartphones, and now mid- and low-end smartphones come with the biometric readers.
By Kim Young-won (email@example.com)