OnQ Blog

Breakthrough 3D fingerprint authentication with Snapdragon Sense ID

Mar 2, 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

The mobile revolution has touched nearly every facet of modern life. Reaching for our smartphones or tablets is now often the first—or only—step we take for everything from depositing a check and ordering groceries to keeping track of our pets and children. With so much sensitive data shared among these devices and various sites, robust mobile security is more important than ever.

As an industry leader, Qualcomm Technologies is committed to providing a comprehensive solution for mobile security. Doing that means staying ahead of the curve as technology quickly advances. That’s why we’re proud to announce Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D fingerprint technology, the latest in cutting-edge biometric fingerprint authentication. Snapdragon Sense ID is the first comprehensive mobile biometric solution based on ultrasonic technology.

It’s a step up from traditional fingerprint authentication, which relies on capacitive touch-based sensors. Our ultrasonic-based technology is engineered to capture three-dimensional acoustic detail within the outer layers of skin, enabling superior image quality for more accurate capture and recognition of unique and subtle fingerprint characteristics. The resulting image data is much less likely to be spoofed, which is a common challenge for capacitive-based sensors.

Snapdragon Sense ID has a number of distinct advantages over legacy capacitive touch based fingerprint solutions:

More Accurate and Consistent

Capacitive touch-based sensors use electrical current to create an image of the user’s fingerprint. Because of the limitations of capacitive sensors, only a surface-level impression of the fingerprint is captured. Instead, using high-frequency sound waves, Snapdragon Sense ID can create a highly detailed 3D image of the unique and subtle features of a user’s fingerprint by penetrating the outer layers of the skin. In effect, these sound waves fill the intricate nooks and crannies of the skin, resulting in an incredibly detailed map of the ridge endings, bifurcations, and even sweat pores that make each individual fingerprint so unique.

Snapdragon Sense ID ultrasonic technology is designed to scan through common contaminants like sweat, lotion, and condensation. This means a more consistent and accurate scan, even when you're on the go.

Cooler Devices

Snapdragon Sense ID is also designed to scan through most device materials, including device cover glass, aluminum, stainless steel, sapphire, and plastics. This opens up opportunities for device manufacturers to create sleek new phone designs and to place the fingerprint sensor in new areas of the device.

More Secure

Because Snapdragon Sense ID can create a more accurate map of the fingerprint, it enables improved biometric authentication. Snapdragon Sense ID technology is more difficult to spoof—or to trick the scanner into authenticating a copy of the user’s fingerprint —than capacitive-based solutions, which only reflect the outer surface of the fingerprint.

Security and user privacy is enhanced by Snapdragon Sense ID also because of its integration with the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) biometrics standard. FIDO helps to facilitate secure online communication among connected devices, including mobile devices with Snapdragon Sense ID and any number of online services that also utilize the FIDO standard.

Another way that Snapdragon Sense ID and FIDO are designed to help secure your personal data is by enabling secure authentication on the device, rather than up in the cloud. Qualcomm Security Solutions are all made to protect personal data on device and to do as much security-related processing on the device as possible, so your personal data never has to leave the well-protected Qualcomm SecureMSM foundation. Snapdragon Sense ID is designed to authenticate you there on your device and send the trusted authentication signal using the FIDO protocol to the other FIDO enabled services.

More Convenient

Most likely all of us have experienced forgetting our password and not being able to access an account when we really needed to. Having to remember multiple usernames and passwords is a hassle. Snapdragon Sense ID is designed to help address that problem by providing a much more convenient password-less user experience. Users don’t need to remember every password, instead they just tap their finger to the phone.

More Comprehensive

Incorporating the Qualcomm Biometric Integrated Circuit (QBIC), custom sensor technology, algorithms managed by Qualcomm SecureMSM technology, Nok Nok Lab’s S3 Authentication Suite, and the FIDO UAF standard, Snapdragon Sense ID truly is the mobile industry's first comprehensive ultrasonic fingerprint solution.


Snapdragon Sense ID 3D fingerprint technology is designed to be compatible with Snapdragon 400 series, 600 series and 800 series processors and is first being introduced in the Snapdragon 810 and 425 processors. You can expect to see Snapdragon Sense ID in commercial devices in the second half of 2015.

Read about the full suite of Qualcomm Security Solutions, and if you're at Mobile World Congress, swing by our booth (Hall 3, booth #3E10) to see Snapdragon Sense ID 3D fingerprint technology in action. We'll be showing an image quality demo, a demo of how ultrasonic technology powers through device cover glass, and a demonstration of the FIDO UAF protocol implementation for a prototype healthcare access scenario.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense, Qualcomm SecureMSM, and Qualcomm Security Solutions are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Brent Sammons

Senior Manager, Marketing