Making sense to touch over the mobile screen- Fingerprint sensors beneath display

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Today, when the tsunami in the electronics industry is on hype, there’s another mind-boggling invention waiting to blow away our minds. In this ever-growing industry, we look for a trailblazing feature every time we purchase a handset. We want speed, quality, effectiveness, all packed in one device that too in a reduced size. Besides, the security of a handset is the most sophisticated feature we long for.

Background Review
The conventional fingerprint readers occupy a discrete area on the devices, which leads to their incompatibility with the hardware of the devices. . To mount a fingerprint reader, a silicon circuit is a must-have. Integrating these circuits, whether capacitive, resistive, thermal, or optical, into a display would require significant and costly modifications to the design and production processes Some mobile companies have integrated them into either the home button on the front, as in Apple 6 & 7 and Samsung S6 & S7 do, or on the rear side of mobile as by Xiaomi Note 3 & Note 4.

Imagine an iPhone without its one and only button – the home button, and its display screen working as a fingerprint reader. Don’t we want to own such a phone? We really do. But, the sad part is we don’t have any phone in the market having a fingerprint sensor embedded on its screen currently. The good part is such phones are about to debut in the market by the end of this year or in 2018.

How are the mobile rivals adopting divergent thinking?
With every phone launch, a new feature also gets launched. To always come up with new ideas, mobile companies adopt divergent thinking as divergent thinking gives birth to creative ideas. Some mobile companies have already incorporated fingerprint readers in their sets either on the home button or on the backside. To grab the eyeballs every time, they add new features in their phones having a large coverage of software applications and a variety of hardware and most importantly, the features enhancing their look and feel.

Why are all major companies planning to omit the fingerprint reader from the front home button and rear side of mobile phones?
Taking one step ahead, mobile rivals are planning to remove these sensors from home buttons and embed them into the rear side of mobile phones. Whereas, some are even thinking to omit them completely.

You must be thinking, then where are they planning to put the sensor if not on the home button or backside either? The strategy is to insert it beneath the mobile screen/display.

Now you must be juggling with a thought ‘Why are these companies doing so?’ There may be two reasons:

  • The first reason is to save space.
  • Second, companies are moving towards the edge to edge AMOLED displays as these displays in mobile phones are making them aesthetically very strong and choice of people.

What are these major mobile rivals up to?
Is there any mobile company providing this feature in their mobile phones at present? The answer is – No. But if the feature gets introduced, it will explode the markets. Several patent offices in the world have recently granted many patents on this feature. So, it can be said that many of them are planning to launch this feature in their upcoming phones in either late 2017 or in 2018.

In Feb 2017, Apple was awarded a patent for a fingerprint reader claiming to insert it in mobile display allowing auto-authentication. According to AppleInsider, this patent was originally filed by LuxVue in 2014, so it was reassigned after Apple acquired the company. The title of the patent is “Exemplary methods and systems use a micro light-emitting diode (LED) in an active matrix display to emit light and a sensing IR diode to sense light”. Maybe this is the hint for embedding it into their coming phones.

According to the news by Bussiness WIre on Feb 27 2017, the leading developer of human interface and biometric solutions for mobile devices, Goodix unveiled its new In-Display Fingerprint Sensor at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017. They have become the first company that has successfully integrated fingerprint readers beneath AMOLED display in mobiles.

In May 2016, LG Innotek reported that it had developed a new fingerprint sensor slotted into a tiny 0.01-inch (0.03 mm) space that cut into the underside of smartphone cover glass, allowing device designers to incorporate fingerprint readers without dedicated buttons, pads, or other exposed elements.

In 2016, Synaptics announced a fingerprint sensor that can be used with the hefty cover glass on top. Synaptics also announced that they are planning to build the fingerprint sensors incoming Apple iPhones by inserting them directly beneath the glass.

According to recent news, CrucialTek from Korea was awarded a patent that claims to implant fingerprint readers in an area on the display panel. They have claimed to put the sensor over the display screen instead of wasting space as a scanner or touch-based fingerprint reader on the home button of the mobile device.

Major Players and Market Growth
The major players in this market are 3M Cogent of the United States, Thales SA of France, Synaptics of United States, Goodix of China, IDEX ASA of Norway, Dermalog Identification of Germany, Apple of United States, Egis of Taiwan, Silead of China, Suprema of South Korea, Safran Identity & Security of France, Cross-match of United States, NEC Corporation from Japan, Fingerprint Cards from Sweden. In the latest research report by “markets-and-markets”, the growth of the fingerprint sensors industry is likely to reach 8.85 Billion US Dollars by 2022, at a CAGR of 18.9% from 2016 and 2022.

Does it make a difference outside the Mobile industry?
Yes, it does. Not just mobiles and laptops, but the concept is taking over the home appliance market as well. In the near future, every potential IoT device may too have a potential fingerprint reader. . You can have them embedded in your microwave to secure them from getting misused by kids and the same goes for your smart TVs and intelligent fridge. The new glass integration makes it easy to include sophisticated fingerprint readers in a design without demolishing its aesthetic value – which is emerging into a bigger consideration as companies like Samsung & Panasonic are trying to bring more luxurious and refined designs to home appliances.


Harvinder Singh

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