The trusty fingerprint sensor we’ve grown accustomed to using at the bottom or on the back of our mobile devices is on the move — seen or unseen by the naked eye. At this year’s MWC Shanghai, Qualcomm Technologies announced the next generation of fingerprint solutions that will allow OEMS to incorporate the feature virtually anywhere on the device including under the display — pulling off quite a feat and venturing into new territory for premium smartphones: Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors. The suite of cutting-edge, biometric sensors for display, glass, and metal are firsts of their kind: They’re the first commercially announced ultrasonic sensors that can scan for fingerprint matches and detect heartbeat, blood flow, and gestures through OLED displays up to 1200 µm thick.
A new suite of features
Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors are engineered to deliver new and enhanced features, compared with the previous generation Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID technology, that can transform the way users authenticate themselves on their mobile devices. The family of Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for display, glass, and metal give OEMs the freedom to place them virtually wherever they want on a device: under the display, metal and glass in the back, or glass under the front bezel.
All three of the ultrasonic-based sensors are designed to power through common contaminants like oil and water, and can even provide consistent, reliable authentication underwater, supporting IP68 devices (water resistance of a maximum depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes). The Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors are made also to detect the user’s heartbeat, serving as alternatives to heart rate sensors, and to detect blood flow (Liveness detection), adding another layer of mobile security.
The sensors do more than verify users. Users can set directional gestures to lead to a specific UI function. For example, swiping a finger upwards over the sensor can open the device’s browser, while swiping left can pull up the user’s contact list.
Form factor freedom
Thanks to the range of surfaces they support, Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors empower OEMs to design unique form factors and designs. For glass and metal, the sensors can scan through up to 800 µm of cover glass and up to 650 µm of aluminum, improvements over the previous generation’s 400 µm capability for glass or metal.
The Fingerprint Sensors are offered as both an integrated solution for current and future Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platforms (the glass and metal sensors are engineered to be compatible with the recently announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and 630 mobile platforms), and as standalone sensors that work with non-Snapdragon platforms.
Commercial Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for glass and metal are expected to be available to OEMs this month, and are expected to arrive in commercial devices early 2018. Engineering samples for Fingerprints Sensors for Display are expected to be available for OEMs to evaluate in October this year, while commercial samples are expected to arrive in the summer of 2018.