When it comes to flagship smartphones, the new trend seems to be near bezel-less edge-to-edge displays. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is probably the best example of this, and the upcoming Galaxy Note 8 is expected to feature a similar design.
Since there is little room on the front of the display to house a dedicated home button with an integrated fingerprint sensor on these new designs, Qualcomm is pushing its new solution which can be embedded within a display, metal or glass. For smartphone applications, these new ultrasonic-based fingerprint sensors can scan through an OLED display stack up to 1.2mm thick.
In addition to being able to detect a heartbeat and blood flow (to improve the accuracy of authentication), the fingerprint sensor is unhindered by wet fingers, meaning that it can even recognize a fingerprint while fully submerged in water.
Qualcomm will also offer additional sensors that scan through up to 0.8mm of glass or 0.65mm of aluminum. This would be beneficial for OEMs that would rather integrate the fingerprint on the rear of a smartphone that is protected by an aluminum unibody or rear cover glass.
“We are excited to announce Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors because they can be designed to support sleeker, cutting-edge form factors, unique mobile authentication experiences, and enhanced security authentication,” said Seshu Madhavapeddy, VP of Product Management, for Qualcomm. “This provides OEMs and operators with the ability to offer truly distinct, differentiated devices with added value on truly groundbreaking new devices.”
The fingerprint sensors for glass and metal will start sampling to OEMs this month, but won’t arrive until the first half of 2018 in shipping devices. The sensor optimized for smartphone displays will be available during the fourth quarter of this year for OEMs, which means that we’re probably looking at 2H 2018 for commercial availability.
With that being said, smartphone OEM Vivo was on hand at MWC Shanghai to demonstrate all of Qualcomm’s new fingerprint sensors using specially modified versions of its XPlay 6. The company also provided this promo video which shows how the feature will work in production devices.
Apple is widely expected to unveil an edge-to-edge iPhone 8 in September that will feature a Touch ID system embedded within the OLED display.