Fingerprint sensors flourish as smartphone security tightens

The rise of fingerprint sensors in mobile phones has brought biometric security to the masses, with a brand new technology set to make it even more secure, writes Sally Ward-Foxton – An article from Joe Bush, Electronic Specifier.

A growing trend in mobile phones is the use of biometric sensors used to identify the user before certain features are unlocked – for security purposes. The most commonly used is the fingerprint sensor, which has been readily adopted by consumers as it’s quick and easy to use and much faster than typing in a passcode every time you want to unlock your phone. The market for fingerprint sensors is growing steadily as this technology begins to filter down from high end devices such as the Apple iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 and Huawei Ascend Mate 7 to mid-level and entry level phones.

“Fingerprints should remain the main biometric embedded in smartphones during the next five years,” said Guillaume Girardin, Technology and Market Analyst for MEMS and Sensors at Yole Développement. Yole estimates that 856 million fingerprint sensors will be produced by 2020, reaching a $3.4bn market (hardware only).

Capacitive sensing

There are three main technology types for fingerprint sensors on the market today. The oldest is the optical fingerprint sensor, which persists in some applications but has largely been superseded. Optical fingerprint sensors use a CCD camera, effectively an array of light sensitive diodes, to capture an image of the fingerprint placed on the scanner. The finger is illuminated by light from a built-in LED, and the ridges of the fingerprint reflect more light back to the sensor than the valleys do. This creates an image of the fingerprint which can be compared to stored data to see if it’s a match. The trouble is, it’s fairly easy to fake a fingerprint if you have a decent quality photo of it, as the sensor is only looking for light or dark areas…

Full article on Electronic Specifier