I used to be a skeptic on biometrics on smartphones. I found the PIN code security feature to be adequate enough and didn’t think fingerprints on smartphones was a good idea.
But it looks like I was proven wrong and I’m glad I was wrong.
Majority of smartphones that are released into the market have fingerprint sensors. Some have them on the front, on the home button, some have them on the side of the phone and some have them on the back of the phone.
They’re very convenient and actually make unlocking your phone a breeze.
But technology is advancing at a rapid pace and companies like Samsung and Apple are racing to develop the next wave of biometrics for smartphones. That next wave includes having the fingerprint scanner directly on the screen so when a user touches the screen when the phone is locked, it instantly scans and unlocks the phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 was rumored to have this feature but on release, the fingerprint scanner was placed on the back of the phone. Apple is reportedly working on this feature for the iPhone 8 but there are rumors that Apple is having difficulty implementing it and may just place a scanner at the back of the phone.
Well, it looks like Apple and Samsung might have to take a seat because a Chinese company called Vivo has already implemented this technology.
Under The Screen
Vivo calls it’s technology Vivo Under Display. It is a fingerprint sensor that can be placed under glass, an OLED screen, or even aluminum.
The sensor is ultrasonic which is not new and could actually be found in existing devices like the Xiomi Mi5. Ultrasonic sensors work by emitting ultrasonic sound waves which penetrate the skin of your finger and capture a 3D image of your fingerprint.
But with Vivo’s sensor, it can penetrate glass, aluminum, and OLED deeper than any similar technology out there. Vivo’s fingerprint sensor is not affected by ambient light and it can work with wet fingers and sweat marks. Vivo is also working on enabling the technology to work underwater.
Proof Of Concept
There’s always a catch to these new technologies and Vivo’s sensor is no exception. At the moment, the technology is proof of concept. There’s no telling if these can be made for the next generation of smartphones or if it will actually be fast enough compared to the current fingerprint sensors.
Vivo does plan to use this technology in its future product line but there’s no timetable yet.
No More Home Buttons?
Even though Vivo’s technology isn’t yet on the market and might not be seen for a while, it still shows that the next innovation will be fingerprint sensors directing underneath smartphone screens.
If Apple does manage to pull it off for the iPhone 8 and it actually works, expect to see phone manufacturers going full force to put out this technology as well.
Samsung is rumored to have this feature in the Galaxy Note 8 but reports say they might just put the sensor on the back of the phone, similar to the Galaxy S8.
Fingerprint sensors directly on smartphone screens are definitely the new trend you should expect in upcoming smartphones. There’s still the question of how it would work if you have a cracked phone or an accident.
But make no mistake, this will be the future.
Joseph-Albert Kuuire is the creator and editor of TechNovaGh.com, an online digital platform focusing on technology in Ghana.
I’m also a UX Designer, book reader, and tech enthusiast (duh!)
Email: [email protected]