Qualcomm’s New Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor is 17 Times Larger, Allows for Dual Fingerprint Scanning

Biometrics News - Qualcomm's New Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor is 17 Times Larger, Allows for Dual Fingerprint Scanning

Multinational chipmaker Qualcomm has announced the follow-up to their 3D Sonic Sensor fingerprint sensor, saying the new 3D Sonic Max will be 17 times larger than the original and allow for the scanning of up to two fingerprints at once for increased security.

The 3D Sonic Sensor was released last year and uses ultrasonic sound waves to create a 3D image of a fingerprint, making it potentially more secure than optical fingerprint scanners which use light from a smartphone’s display to capture a 2D image of a fingerprint.

The sensors made their high-profile debut in Samsung’s Galaxy S10 smartphones, though it wasn’t long before flaws began to reveal problems associated with their size. The sensors — measuring 4mm x 9mm — had trouble accurately reading fingerprints, requiring the user to place their finger in the exact right spot in order to get a reading.

In October, they were also found to be easily spoofed by certain types of screen protectors that allowed any fingerprint to unlock a device, requiring Qualcomm and Samsung to work together to release a software patch to solve the issue.

“What we’ve done is collected and bought [with Samsung] multiples of these phone covers, and we’ve created anti-spoof algorithms that are already released into the market,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager of mobile at Qualcomm.

Qualcomm hopes that the increased size of the second generation 3D Sonic Max — which measures 20mm x 30mm — will solve the problems associated with the accuracy of the previous sensors. The newly increased size allows for a more accurate reading of fingerprints, and is also large enough to scan two fingerprints at once, which should provide additional security at a time where users are becoming increasingly concerned with privacy.

The 3D Sonic Max sensors are due for release next year, though there is no word yet as to which phones they will make their debut in. Recent reports suggest that Apple may be looking to bring back Touch ID in at least one of next year’s iPhones, and Qualcomm’s tech may be what they choose to go with to make this happen.

Sources: The Verge, CNET, Engadget