Over the last couple of years, there has been a lot of talk about where fingerprint readers on smartphones should go when modern smartphones with thin screen frames lack space for them. One idea has been to place the reader under the phone’s screen. After many promises and rumors from the industry, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo has created a demonstration of the technology in practice.
Ultrasound – even under water
The chipset manufacturer Qualcomm has developed the new fingerprint technology. It consists of a fingerprint reader that sits under an OLED screen on a smartphone.
The reader sends out an ultrasound through the phone screen. When a finger is placed on the screen, the sound that is analyzed is reflected so that the appearance of the fingerprint can be determined. Unlike the capacitive fingerprint technology used by today’s smartphones, ultrasound-based technology can thus analyze a fingerprint through a monitor and a disc of protective glass.
Chinese Vivo is the first smartphone manufacturer to show a working prototype for the technology. At Mobile World Congress Shanghai, a customized version of the company’s Xplay6 phone was unveiled with the new reader. The American technology site Engadget tested the phone and discovered that the new type of reader is slower than traditional readers but that it works reliably and even better than traditional readers, in some situations. The new reader, for example, has a great advantage over traditional readers when it can be used underwater or when a finger is wet or dirty.