Synaptics has announced it’s figured out how to embed a fingerprint reader in an OLED display and produce it at mass volume. That one sentence is absolutely huge for the smartphone industry as many companies, including Samsung and Apple, have tried to figure out the procedure but ultimately failed. It’s the reason we’re seeing Face ID on the iPhone X and this horribly placed fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S8 and Note 8.
Not only have they figured out the technology, but they’ll also be shipping it in a new smartphone that will launch next year. The phone will come from Vivo who, while isn’t entirely popular in the US, will likely make its name known across the industry as the first to embed a fingerprint reader in a display.
Here are some pics @anshelsag and I took of the Vivo smartphone with the Synaptics in-display fingerprint reader. The CMOS image sensor is .7mm thick and reads the fingerprint right through the OLED display. The experience was faster than I expected. pic.twitter.com/u1NFpXtFQM
— Patrick Moorhead (@PatrickMoorhead) December 14, 2017
An article written by Patrick Moorhead for Forbes explains what it’s like to use the reader. According to Moorhead who used a prototype of a Vivo-branded smartphone, it’s faster than using something like Face ID and only appears when you need it. If fingerprint authentication is needed to perform an action, an aluminated fingerprint appears on your display which is customizable based on OEM skins. You simply place your finger on the display and it reads your appendage, therefore unlocking whatever content was necessary.
With this implementation, it should also save you battery since the sensor will only be active when it aluminates on your screen. The entire idea of just placing your finger on your smartphone’s screen sounds futuristic and undoubtedly cool, so here’s to more manufacturers adopting the feature next year as well.
Of course, Synaptics isn’t the only player in this game. Although they haven’t been able to produce it in a high volume, Qualcomm also has its own embedded fingerprint reader technology which was demoed earlier this year. It’s not as fast as Synaptic’s version, but it at least works. And since so many OEMs already have relationships with Qualcomm, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the manufacturer’s reader in a lot more smartphones than Synaptic’s.
No timetable for when this Vivo smartphone will go on sale was given, but it’ll happen during the course of 2018 regardless.