Qualcomm's ambitious new fingerprint sensors work through touchscreens
Qualcomm wants you to unlock your phone in ways you haven’t before.
Qualcomm wants in on the fingerprint sensor madness, since every phone these days has one — or should — and the company basically owns every other part of the animal, so why not another?
Dubbed Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors, the term encompasses three main input methods: Display, Metal, and Glass. The first is both the most interesting and requires the longest wait, since it represents the ideal situation that we, as smartphone owners, have been anticipating for years: the ability to authenticate our fingerprints by merely tapping on the screen.
While it will only work on OLED panels up to 1200μm or thinner, this allows modern devices to essentially “hide” the fingerprint sensor by using ultrasonic sensing, a technique that has heretofore been less accurate, and desirable, than traditional capacitive fingerprint solutions.
The other methods, glass and metal-based sensors, can be embedded on the rear of a device, allowing someone to unlock with no seams in the casing, just a two-dimensional guide for placement.
According to Qualcomm, all three methods work underwater and can be accompanied with heart rate and blood flow sensors, as well as directional gestures for doing things like launching apps or opening the notification shade.
Devices with glass and metal sensors should be arriving in mid-2018, while we’ll have to wait until early 2019 or so for under-display solutions. Hopefully by then we’ll have similar options from Samsung, Apple and others to keep our fingers occupied.