In-Screen Fingerprint Reader Explained: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Omar Sohail
In Screen Fingerprint Reader Explained

Apple’s iPhone 5s started the whole smartphone biometrics saga with the introduction of Touch ID. The fingerprint scanner element is now ubiquitous, embedded in home buttons, mounted on the back side of mobile phones and even placed on the side beneath the home button of handsets. Naturally, the development of faster and more accurate fingerprint readers led to the makings of newer ways of unlocking your smartphone.

This includes facial recognition like Face ID and something that we will be discussing in detail today; the in-screen fingerprint reader. As we see more high screen-to-body ratio smartphones getting released, a consequence of this action is the where to put the fingerprint reader, which is often moved to the back of the phone to compensate for those ‘all screen’ handsets.

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However, having an in-screen fingerprint reader will forego this change and we will explain what its internals are like and what are the possibilities for the future of smartphones.

Synaptics Hard at Work With Its Clear ID FS9500 Intended for High-End Smartphones

Synaptics and Vivo have this long-term partnership that enabled the making of the Clear ID FS9500, which is an optical sensor that can be placed beneath the display of the smartphone. In short, it is an optical sensor, or a CMOS sensor, the kind that you find in regular or smartphone cameras. In order for it to work, there are going to have to be some requirements.

The display on the smartphone needs to be an OLED panel, which is why you are only going to find it on devices that are touting OLED screens and that can only mean that for now, high-end phones will come bearing this security addition. Goodix is also working to bring in-display fingerprint scanners to manufacturers so more suppliers also mean that companies will be able to negotiate better pricing for this component.

How Does the in-Screen Fingerprint Reader Work?

When you hold up the phone, the fingerprint sensor indicator will light up, meaning that you can now unlock your smartphone using this part of the biometrics. According to videos seen online, it is definitely slower than regular fingerprint readers so improved iterations of the scanner will have to be introduced to make it faster. This is possibly the reason why Samsung might have refused to incorporate this sensor on the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus.

As thin as it might be to fit inside the display, it is quite slow, and though it is present at an ‘easy to reach’ location, users will definitely complain about the speed problems. Coming back to unlocking the device, after you have placed your fingerprint on the scanner, a light will shine on the sensor to capture your fingerprint and unlock the smartphone. However, this is just the beginning of such sensors because it does not have to be located in a single region on the phone.

What Are the Possibilities of the in-Display Fingerprint Scanner for Future Smartphones?

As we said before, the sensor does not have to be placed at a single location. During the announcement of the Vivo APEX, which is honestly the first glimpse into the future of what bezel-less smartphones will look like, it too features an in-glass fingerprint reader, but here’s the catch.

The bottom half of the phone is covered by this CMOS sensor, which the company is calling it the ‘Half-Screen Fingerprint Scanning Technology’. This means that you place your finger anywhere at the bottom half and if your fingerprint is registered, the phone will unlock seamlessly.

This development also means that there is a future where we might get to see smartphones with their entire displays being covered with the sensor.

All you will have to do is whip it out, place your finger anywhere and immediately, the phone will be unlocked. That is certainly a future that we will look forward to witnessing but for that specific future to materialize and become a reality, better versions of the fingerprint are going to have to be released.

Did you enjoy reading about what in-screen fingerprint readers are and how they work? Tell us down in the comments.

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