Interface tech company Synaptics announced on Tuesday that it has begun “mass production” of a display-embedded fingerprint sensor for a “top five” manufacturer.
The company’s new Clear ID FS9500 family is a series of optical, in-display fingerprint sensors. Notably, Synaptics said they’re specifically designed for edge-to-edge, bezel-free “infinity displays” similar to the one on the iPhone X and recent Android flagships. As far as how it works, the company states that its display-embedded sensors “magically activate” only when needed.
Synaptics has been working on display-embedded fingerprint technology for some time and announced its first working version — the Clear ID FS9100 — back in December of last year. The FS9500 announced today is an upgraded version of that technology.
The human interface company added that its fingerprint sensors work with wet, dry and cold fingers. Because it’s built under the display glass, it’s waterproof and scratch-proof. And, performance-wise, Synaptics said that it’ll work “twice as fast” as 3D facial recognition systems (which, at this point in time, is basically calling out Face ID).
Who Is the Fingerprint Sensor For?
Of course, the big question about Synaptics’ announcement is which smartphone maker has tapped them for the under-display fingerprint sensors. Synaptics did not specify beyond saying that it’s a “top five” OEM.
While it’s worth noting that Synaptics is a known Apple supplier, the Cupertino iPhone-maker has long relied on its own proprietary solution for its Touch ID tech. It’s also unclear whether or not future iPhones will even sport a Touch ID sensor — it’s been left off of the company’s newest iPhone X flagship, and Apple engineers have explicitly stated that Face ID is the future.
Combine that with rumors of Face ID coming to Apple’s entire iPhone lineup and possibly its iPad Pro lineup in 2018, and that makes the “top 5” OEM unlikely to be Apple.
It’s more probable that Synaptics is referring to an Android manufacturer, especially since a full-fledged, 3D facial recognition system is still forecasted to be a few years off for Android makers. As far as which Android manufacturer, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and Huawei are all candidates.
Before the iPhone X’s unveiling in September, Apple was long rumored to be working on its own display-embedded fingerprint sensor technology. While several Apple staff have disputed those rumors, it’s still not clear whether Apple spent any energy exploring an in-display solution before settling on Face ID. While Apple could include a relocated, display-embedded Touch ID sensor in a future iPhone, it’s a bit far-fetched at this point.
On that note, knowing how Android manufacturers operate, it’s certainly looking likely that one of the major OEMs will “borrow” Apple’s rumored idea and debut a flagship with a relocated, under-display fingerprint sensor next year.
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