Synaptics has unveiled an optical-based fingerprint sensor that promises to transform the way consumers interact with their smartphones and tablets. Synaptics’ Natural ID FS9100 sensor enables high-resolution scanning through 1 mm of full cover glass. This feature allows device makers to deploy the sensors under the cover glass, including 2.5D glass. Under-cover glass biometrics eliminate button cutouts and glass-thinning processes required to accommodate capacitive under-glass sensors. This technology will lead to glass yield improvements, but more important, it will usher in an age of button-free interface designs—a critical element in the transition to full top-to-bottom, edge-to-edge smartphone and tablet displays.
One of the strengths of the FS9100 device is that it excels in wet finger performance. Because the sensor is protected by glass, it is durable, scratchproof and waterproof, as well as immune to electrostatic discharge—qualities the other sensor technologies have yet to acquire. In addition, the FS9100 sensor has an extremely thin form factor and low power requirements. These two features enable Synaptics’ sensor to overcome two barriers that have prevented optical sensors from being practical options for mobile devices. In these applications, size and energy consumption can make or break a technology.
The FS9100 sensor features Synaptics’ SentryPoint™ technology suite. This means that OEMs will have a wide range of unique authentication features at their disposal, including Quantum Matcher™ with PurePrint™ anti-spoof technology.
Some analysts have expressed concerns about potential security vulnerabilities, such as the “gummy bear hack” in which a malleable, gummy material is used to lift a fingerprint off another surface and then spoof an optical sensor. Synaptics has responded by saying that its Quantum Matcher™ PurePrint™ technology is up to the task of combating fake fingerprints. PurePrint™ uses artificial intelligence to spot fake prints, using “liveness” as the determining factor.
The FS9100 chips will go into production in the second quarter of 2017.