Everyone loves fingerprint sensors on their devices but not everyone loves the look of them. In what should be a boon for innovative, button-free phone design, Synaptics have today announced an optical fingerprint sensor that can perform high resolution scanning through glass up to 1 millimetre thick.
The Synaptics sensor is the first of it’s kind for the smartphone/tablet industry although Qualcomm have already introduced an ultrasonic scanner that can read through glass that is already features in the Xiaomi Mi 5s. Synaptics say that the new FS9100 optical fingerprint sensors are designed to be placed under the glass (including 2.5D glass) located on the front of devices. It eliminates the requirement for a button cut-out (which I think they still need to guide your finger to the correct spot) and the thinner glass that the current capacitive sensors require.
It apparently excels in wet finger performance and is scratch-proof and extremely durable. Synaptics say that:
Unlike optical fingerprint sensors used for access control and public biometric identity verification, the advanced FS9100 sensor leverages unique Synaptics optical technology developed for mobile devices and breaks through key technical barriers with an extremely thin form factor and minimal power consumption.
The sensors will be ready for sample in early 2017 with mass production expected to begin in the second quarter. It is unlikely we will see it in any devices in the first half of next year but never say never. Samsung ARE trying to hit the ball out of the park with the Galaxy S8.