Galaxy S8 Plus fingerprint sensor

They say Synaptics, a relatively small San Jose-based designer of biometrics products, let Samsung down in its initial plans to embed a fingerprint sensor into the Galaxy S8’s “Infinity Display.” And apparently, Korea’s CrucialTec, the world’s largest manufacturer of Optical Track Pad mobile input devices, isn’t going to be able to pull off a satisfactory under-glass solution in time for the Note 8 either.

But perhaps semiconductor titan Qualcomm can make the super-advanced fingerprint scanning and authentication technology ubiquitous in the Android smartphone landscape as early as next year.

The aptly titled Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensor for Display today becomes the “mobile industry’s first commercially announced multi-functional ultrasonic solution capable of scanning through OLED display stacks of up to 1200um, along with enrolling and matching.”

In a nutshell, that means smartphone producers (like Samsung, but not just Samsung) can finally rely on a major component supplier with a stellar track record to offer them accurate and blazing fast fingerprint readers functional when “hidden” inside increasingly popular OLED panels. Buh-bye, bezels, so long, awkwardly placed rear-mounted sensors.

Unfortunately, OEMs will merely start to “evaluate” Qualcomm’s Fingerprint Sensor for Display solution this Q4, i.e. between October and December 2017, so the actual production and commercial rollout might still be a ways off.

On the bright side, Qualcomm isn’t conditioning the use of this technology on the adoption of a Snapdragon processor. Oh, and Vivo is in fact the first company to embrace the breakthrough, but only for an experimental demo of a “modified” XPlay 6 device.

In slightly less exciting news, Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for Glass and Metal have also debuted at Shanghai’s Mobile World Congress 2017, working exclusively with Snapdragon 660 and 630 SoCs to support more “design flexibility.”

Capable of scanning through up to 800 µm of cover glass and 650 µm of aluminum, up from the previous generation’s 400 µm, these promise to be more discreet and robust when mounted on the backs of mid-range phones.

Last but not least, Qualcomm’s next-gen ultrasonic fingerprint solutions sport detection of directional gestures, underwater fingerprint match and device wake-up, as well as heart beat and blood flow recognition for “improved mobile authentication experiences.” Yup, that’s water functionality and a bunch of other impressive stuff. Who knew you could do so much with a humdrum fingerprint scanner?

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