Qualcomm has announced fingerprint scanners that can be placed under an OLED screen, glass or metal. According to the company, the variant for under OLED screens will end up in high-end smartphones from the summer of 2018.
Qualcomm has presented different versions of the fingerprint scanners, all of which use ultrasonic technology. The company has been working on this since 2015 under the name Sense ID and has already released scanners that work behind glass. Now there are also versions that can be placed behind the screen.
The most advanced fingerprint scanner can be placed behind an OLED screen of up to 1.2 mm thick. It does not work with LCDs. Qualcomm will provide manufacturers with the first samples in October. According to the manufacturer, the first smartphones with a fingerprint scanner under the OLED screen will be on the market in the summer of 2018. It would be the most expensive high-end devices.
A second fingerprint scanner is suitable to be placed behind aluminum or glass. This would be suitable for slightly cheaper high-end devices, where the fingerprint scanner is at the back. This technology can therefore be placed behind the glass or aluminum of the housing. The glass may be a maximum of 0.8 mm thick, for aluminum that is 0.65 mm. That’s an improvement over previous fingerprint scanners that worked behind aluminum up to 0.4mm thick.
Cheap smartphones also get ultrasonic fingerprint scanners, according to Qualcomm. These would then be scanners behind the glass plate on the front of a telephone. These rear glass and aluminum sensors will be shipped to manufacturers in July, and smartphones with the hardware should be available in early 2018.
The new fingerprint scanners are compatible with the Snapdragon 660 and 630, which Qualcomm announced in May. In addition, they are designed to work with future socs in the Snapdragon 800, 600, 400 and 200 series, Qualcomm says. With the current Snapdragon 835, the new technology does not seem to work. The scanners could also be combined with socs from other processor makers, but it is not known with which.
According to Qualcomm, the ultrasonic fingerprint scanners can also measure the heart rate of users and in addition, the scanners would work underwater. The capacitive fingerprint scanners currently used in smartphones do not work properly if they come into contact with water. Because there is no longer a need to make a hole for the scanner, smartphones could also be made waterproof more easily.
Other suppliers are also working on fingerprint scanners that can be placed under glass and screens, including Synaptics and CrucialTec. Last year, Xiaomi released the Mi 5s with an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner from Qualcomm. It was not behind the screen, but under the glass that covers the front.