The future of fingerprint scanners has arrived

Fingerprint scanners have made their way into the day to day lives of most smartphone users. The technology used to build these scanners has developed rapidly in the past few years.

Alistair Von Glehn
March 24, 2022
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The most recent fingerprint scanning technology to enter the smartphone market is the Ultrasonic Sensor. Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D fingerprint technology is a biometric security platform based on ultrasonic technology, making it the first in the mobile industry.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus use Qualcomm's ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint technology. Qualcomm is an American multinational corporation operating in the telecoms industry. The billion dollar company is known for designing and manufacturing semiconductors and wireless telecommunications products.

The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is much more secure as it captures 3D details that are not attainable with an optical fingerprint sensor as it only takes a 2D image. Also, optical sensors shine light through the screen to read users fingerprints but that can be inaccurate as light diffracts through things such as water.

Figure 1: shows the differences between 3D fingerprint technology and 2D fingerprint technology.

The soundwaves of ultrasonic scanner reads through water, oil, grease and lotion, and also detects the users blood flow meaning fake 3D model fingers won't fool this technology. Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner makes use of very high-frequency ultrasonic waves that penetrate the outer layers of the skin and generates a highly detailed surface map of the fingerprint to authenticate the user and better protect user data.

To catch the details of the users fingerprint the scanner has a transmitter and a receiver where the pulse is transmitted against the user's finger over the scanner.

Figure 2: shows the different ridges that the 3D fingerprint technology scans through.

It is incredibly thin at 0.2mm and has about a 250-millisecond latency for unlocking and the sensor has about a one percent error rate. The scanner has the capacity to scan and match fingerprints through different types of device material such as; glass, steel, aluminum, plastics and sapphire that provides innovative design options for manufactures. This technology provides an easier and additional reliable user experience but these various benefits make it a bit more costly to implement.

The future of fingerprints is here. Are you ready? How do you feel about the new ultrasonic fingerprint technology and are they worth it?

As seen on FOX, Digital journal, NCN, Market Watch, Bezinga and more

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