China-based Vivo will be the first company to come out with a smartphone featuring an in-display sensor for fingerprint security, beating Apple, Samsung, and other device makers to the punch.
The "Clear ID" technology from Synaptics will enable phone manufacturers to do away with the current generation of scanners for fingerprint-based biometric security. Until now, such sensors had to be deployed using separate physical buttons rather than being seamlessly integrated into the phones' displays.
It's an innovation that had reportedly been hotly pursued by Apple for its latest flagship device, the iPhone X, which launched in November. Instead, Apple dropped the home button from the design of the iPhone X in lieu of a new facial recognition security feature called Face ID.
'Durable, Scratchproof, and Waterproof'
On Tuesday, Synaptics, a California-based maker of touchpad and touchscreen technologies, announced that it has started mass-producing its new Clear ID optical fingerprint sensors for a "top five" smartphone manufacturer. News emerged yesterday that the manufacturer would be Vivo, rather than one of the other four alternatives i.e., Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Xioami.
"The new Synaptics Clear ID optical fingerprint sensors deliver one-touch high-resolution scanning through full cover glass and enable sleek, button-free, bezel-free infinity displays," the company said in a statement.
Synaptics added that the Clear ID technology is also faster than 3D facial recognition as well as secure and convenient, enabling users to unlock their devices under a wide range of circumstances.
"The new Synaptics Clear ID optical fingerprint sensors deliver one-touch high-resolution scanning through full cover glass and enable sleek, button-free, bezel-free infinity displays," according to the company. The technology, "excels with wet, dry and cold fingers, and since it's protected by glass, is durable, scratchproof and waterproof. In-display fingerprint technology allows users to securely unlock the device in situations including while it's sitting on the table, at any angle, or while in a car mount," Synaptics said.
Live Demo Set for CES
In-display fingerprint scanning represents "a major innovation shift and opportunity for the smartphone market," said Kevin Barber, senior vice president and general manager of Synaptics' mobile division, in the statement. "Consumers prefer fingerprint authentication on the front of the phone, and with the industry quickly shifting to bezel-free OLED infinity displays, the natural placement of the fingerprint sensor is in the display itself."
Writing in Forbes yesterday, analyst Patrick Moorhead agreed such technology could represent a sea change in the mobile device market.
"This is something that many sensor and smartphone companies have had a very hard time figuring out, so this is big news," said Moorhead, founder, president, and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "It is big for Synaptics, but even bigger for the smartphone industry and consumers." He added that Synaptics expects to sell around 70 million units of the Clear ID technology in 2018.
For now, neither Vivo nor Synaptics is saying which of Vivo's smartphones will first come with Clear ID. Synaptics said it plans to give a live demonstration of the technology in a full-production device during CES, which takes place in Las Vegas next month.