Qualcomm Is Working On an In-Screen Fingerprint Reader That Uses Sound


Qualcomm is finally ready to release its newest in-screen fingerprint reader, which uses sound to unlock your phone. The 3D Sonic Sensor bounces ultrasound waves off your finger to verify your prints.

This could well be the in-screen fingerprint sensor that has made its way into the Samsung Galaxy 10. As Qualcomm says, it explicitly designed the scanner to fit under a phones’ screen. It is a competing technology to the optical in-screen sensors which is used by Vivo and OnePlus, two of the first manufacturers to release devices with the new tech.

Moving the fingerprint sensors from the rear to in-screen makes a lot of sense from a design view, freeing up space elsewhere and letting the manufacturers place them in the natural grip position. It is one of the hot features in the mobile ecosystem, with analysts at IHS Markit predicting 100 million smartphones will have in-screen fingerprint sensors by 2019.

Here is what you need to know

Qualcomm’s ‘3D Sonic Sensor’ uses sound waves to read your fingerprint. It will make it more secure than the optical tech on existing smartphones, which can be fooled by a high-resolution photograph. While it was designed to go under a screen, it could just as easily be found in a home button in the future.

The image taken by the sensors is three-dimensional, and it can work with grimy or wet hands. It can also read through glass or metal, so hidden fingerprint sensors on the back of devices might be called back. The system can also detect your blood flow, further adding to the security and making it harder to fool.

Sound, not Optics

Both the competing techs using capacitive or optical methods essentially take a 2D picture of the ridges on your finger. The Ultrasonic method that is been implemented by Qualcomm can take a 3D image of the finger, even going an extra mile to capture the level of your pores if Qualcomm’s claims are to be believed. It will be more interesting to see the results of independent tests once devices with the sensor arrive on the market.

It is safe enough to work with mobile payment platforms such as Google Pay. That will put it on a similar level with Samsung’s Iris scanning or Apple’s Face ID. The natural face scanning capability in Android is not secure enough and can be tricked with a photograph.

Tell us what you think about the in-screen fingerprint tech making its way to phones. Let us know in the comments section below.


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