Remember a few months ago when it was discovered that Apple is looking to integrate fingerprint readers in the display, somewhere between the touch panel and the display glass? Well, it turns out that another, much smaller company, claims to have beaten Apple to the punch. Sonovation, a company that specializes in ultrasound biometrics, has just announced that it has figured out a way to embed 3D fingerprint sensors in the Corning Gorilla glass.
According to Karl Weintz, CEO at Sonovation, the technology will allow smartphone makers to significantly cut the costs involved with integrating a fingerprint reader in their handsets. For one, the need for a physical home button, the place where most smartphone-mounted fingerprint sensors currently reside, could be eliminated, although smartphone manufacturers might decide to integrate physical buttons for other purposes, such as design and functionality.
Another major advantage that fingerprint sensors that bond with the Gorilla Glass will bring to the table has to do with the space that current-generation fingerprint readers take up. As the Sonovation’s fingerprint sensors will be embedded in the glass, this could save precious space, especially on smaller device form factors such as wearables.
Sonovation says that its fingerprint detection technology works seamlessly even with moist, dirty, or oily fingers. Unfortunately, we’ll have to test-drive the tech for ourselves before validating that everything works as smoothly as on the Apple iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy S6, smartphones that use touch-based fingerprint readers integrated in the physical home button.
At the moment, Sonovation’s technology only works with Corning Gorilla Glass, and there’s no word yet on a potential expansion to compatibility with other types of display protection glass. This might seem like a limitation at first, but as fingerprint readers are usually equipped on high-end smartphones, ones that usually come with Corning Gorilla Glass anyway, this doesn’t seem to be a cause of concern.