Fin­ger­print sen­sors on their way to more smart­phones

Tech Advisor - - NEWS -

Cheaper sen­sors and broader soft­ware sup­port will make fin­ger­print au­then­ti­ca­tion more ac­ces­si­ble to app de­vel­op­ers and ser­vice providers, re­veals

Fin­ger­print au­then­ti­ca­tion will be­come a lot more com­mon on smart­phones of all prices as sen­sors get cheaper, and Google’s in­te­gra­tion of the tech­nol­ogy in the next ver­sion of An­droid will make it much eas­ier for app de­vel­op­ers and ser­vice providers to make use of them.

To­day, fin­ger­print sen­sors are mainly avail­able on high-end mod­els from Ap­ple and Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics. But that is about to change, ac­cord­ing to sen­sor man­u­fac­tur­ers Sy­nap­tics and Fin­ger­print Cards.

The lat­ter has seen a grow­ing in­ter­est in its tech­nol­ogy from smart­phone man­u­fac­tur­ers in re­cent months, as well as a strong in­crease in or­ders. As a re­sult, the com­pany has raised its rev­enue es­ti­mate for the year from about 1.5bn- (£115m) to 2.2bn Swedish Krona (£191m).

“This mar­ket is re­ally start­ing to take off,” said Jürgen Lantto, CEO at Fin­ger­print Cards, who an­tic­i­pates that half of all smart­phones sold next year will have the fea­ture.

Fin­ger­print Cards sen­sors are al­ready used in the As­cend Mate 7 from Huawei Tech­nolo­gies and Oppo’s R7 Plus, which was launched in May. Sy­nap­tics, which makes the sen­sor in the Sam­sung Gal­axy S6 and S6 Edge, is equally sure that smart­phones with fin­ger­print sen­sors will be­come more pop­u­lar.

Mikael Rick­näs

“The mar­ket is hot, and the adop­tion rate across a broader range of prod­ucts will grow faster now,” said An­thony Gioeli, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing for Sy­nap­tics bio­met­rics busi­ness unit.

Google adding na­tive sup­port for fin­ger­print sen­sors in An­droid M is a ma­jor rea­son why the tech­nol­ogy has started to take off on a larger scale. The na­tive sup­port will make it eas­ier for smart­phone man­u­fac­tur­ers to in­te­grate fin­ger­print sen­sors in their de­vices. It will also make life eas­ier for de­vel­op­ers, who can use An­droid APIs to in­te­grate fin­ger­print recog­ni­tion in their apps in­stead pro­pri­etary ones de­vel­oped by the sen­sor mak­ers, Lantto said.

De­vel­op­ments on the hard­ware side are also low­er­ing the bar for fin­ger­print recog­ni­tion. Prices have come down by about 25 per­cent in the past year, and they will con­tinue to drop as vol­umes in­crease, Gioeli said. It’s al­ready pos­si­ble to build a £75 smart­phone with fin­ger­print recog­ni­tion, ac­cord­ing to Lantto.

The launch of the iPhone 5s with Touch ID proved to be a bless­ing and a curse, at least a short-term one. On the plus side, it helped in­creased aware­ness. But many com­pet­ing smart­phone ven­dors wanted a touch sen­sor, just like Ap­ple had got from its 2012 ac­qui­si­tion of AuthenTec, in­stead of the swipe sen­sors Fin­ger­print Cards and Sy­nap­tics had de­vel­oped. It took six- to nine months to re­group, Lantto said.

Be­yond Ap­ple and Sam­sung, many Chi­nese ven­dors have been adding fin­ger­print sen­sors to their smart­phones. Huawei will cer­tainly of­fer it in more fu­ture mod­els, ac­cord­ing to a spokesman at the com­pany. Us­ing fin­ger­prints as op­posed to PINs or pat­terns has proved ideal for heavy smart­phone users, he said. Fin­ger­print Cards has re­cently added Yu­long and Gionee to its list of cus­tomers.

Many of the more es­tab­lished ven­dors, such as LG Elec­tron­ics and Sony, are still on the fence. HTC re­cently launched the One M9+ for the Chi­nese mar­ket.

Mo­bile pay­ments will also likely help fuel the avail­abil­ity of fin­ger­print recog­ni­tion on more de­vices. If Google wants its up­com­ing An­droid Pay ser­vice to take off, it needs to con­vince more ven­dors to in­te­grate the tech­nol­ogy. Al­low­ing Google to of­fer the same func­tion­al­ity as Ap­ple Pay. Just adding fin­ger­print recog­ni­tion to this year’s Nexus smart­phones won’t be enough. The same goes for Sam­sung. If the com­pany wants Sam­sung Pay to be suc­cess­ful, more de­vices than the Gal­axy S and Note prod­ucts will need to be equipped with the tech­nol­ogy.

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