Home Tech Talks Insights Can the in-display fingerprint sensor be improved?

Can the in-display fingerprint sensor be improved?


The Touch ID fad started with Apple’s iPhone 5S, and has now crept its way into almost every smartphone. Varying from device to device, the fingerprint scanner may be under the home button or behind the device. With the increase in accuracy and speed of fingerprint scanners, this sneaky little technology has found its way under the screen of most new smartphone releases. This gimmick has enabled manufacturers to build devices with greater screen to body ratio, resulting in the new ‘Infinity Display’ trend.

Android Doesn’t Want Face Unlock

While Apple has moved onto facial recognition, many Android devices seem to be sticking to fingerprint scanners as their choice of biometric ID. The new OnePlus 6T has received flak for shifting to the in-display scanner, as it has made its unlock time slower than its predecessor! Although, the manufacturer claims that its speed will increase over time.

“Every time a user successfully unlocks the phone with their fingerprint, the sensor also records areas of the finger that weren’t registered in the initial fingerprint setup stage. This fingerprint data is then added to the data the phone already holds, making it more complete. So, every time the in-display sensor is used, it gathers more data about the user’s fingerprint. This means that over time, the phone will unlock even faster.

The sensor’s algorithms are also able to figure out when the user’s fingerprint is different than usual – if their finger is wet or if they have a cut on it, etc. In these cases, once the phone is successfully unlocked, the algorithms add this new fingerprint data to the existing data to improve unlock speeds under these conditions in the future”, says Yale Liu a OnePlus Software engineer on a blog on the OnePlus forum.

Types of in-display fingerprint scanners

The in-display fingerprint scanners we see today are essentially optical sensors which illuminate your finger while a tiny camera captures your fingerprint. In 2019, we can expect these to shift to an ultrasonic technology instead.

These ultrasonic scanners are more expensive and work better with soiled fingers, for instance when they’re wet or oily with moisturizer. The ultrasound forms an image of your finger and it functions as a ‘Face ID for your fingerprint.’

Qualcomm recently unveiled its 3D Sonic Sensor, the third generation of its current ultrasonic scanner at its annual Tech Summit. This Snapdragon Sense ID innovation was initially boasted in 2015, and is now expected to feature in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10. Ultrasonic sensors are more accurate and hence, more secure than their optical nemeses. While today’s ultrasonics can penetrate glass upto 800 microns thick and metal upto 400 microns thick, the Snapdragon 3D Sonic Sensor is expected to breach that level.

Synaptics is another major competitor in this space whose Clear ID can be found in Xiaomi’s Mi 8 Pro and Vivo’s Nex S. In the past 30 years, Synaptics has developed the first computer touch pad, the touch tech on iPod’s click wheel among others. Its sensors can also be found on many external fingerprint scanners for smartphones.

Source: GadgetsToUse

Goodbye Regular Sensors?

With all these new developments by Qualcomm and Synaptics, it is clear that in-display sensors are definitely geared towards a faster unlock time. The comment by Yale Liu also clarifies and claims that the existing OnePlus 6T sensor will unlock faster over time. It is curious whether any device with the Qualcomm or Synaptics sensor will be released before the OnePlus 6T unlock time actually improves.

You can always find an improvement to your existing phone. And when you do, don’t forget to sell your oldie for some quick cash on Cashify.


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