Despite a slew of rumors that it would appear in the Galaxy S8, Note 8, and iPhone X, screen-embedded fingerprint scanners never appeared in this year’s flagships. But it looks as though the technology could finally go mainstream in 2018.
Biometrics firm Synaptics has announced the development of Clear ID FS9500, the “world’s first in-display fingerprint sensor for smartphones.” It’s said to work when a user’s finger is wet or cold and is apparently twice as fast as 3D facial recognition systems like Apple’s Face ID.
Synaptics added that Clear ID “requires only one touch to access your smartphone," and that it’s also durable, scratchproof, and waterproof.
Synaptics isn’t the first company to develop such a system; Qualcomm revealed an ultrasonic fingerprint scanning and authentication technology collectively called Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors back in June. But Clear ID could be the first of its kind to appear in mainstream commercial devices.
Synaptics said mass production of the embedded scanner has begun for a “Tier 1 OEM,” adding that it will be used in a handset manufactured by a "Top 5" smartphone company. In a press release, Synaptics uses the terms “bezel-free infinity display” and “OLED infinity display,” which sounds like a reference to Samsung’s screen tech. However, recent leaks suggest the Galaxy S9 will feature a repositioned rear fingerprint sensor, so Clear ID could instead debut in the Note 9, which is what KGI Securities believes, or even another manufacturer’s handset.
"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,” writes Kevin Barber, Synaptics's mobile division senior vice president and general manager.