This week brought some important news in the world of mobile biometrics: At its Snapdragon Technology Summit, Qualcomm announced that it had developed a new, ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor. Called the 3D Sonic Sensor, it was unveiled alongside Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform, its flagship chip solution for the coming year.
Together with the launch of FindBiometrics’ Year in Review survey, it’s a good occasion to look back on the emergence of in-display sensor technology over the course of 2018. Qualcomm was among the first sensor specialists to announce that it had developed an in-display fingerprint sensor way back in June of 2017, but the ultrasonic solution wasn’t deployed in an actual smartphone until the Huawei Honor 9 came along this spring – and even then, it wasn’t integrated into the device’s display, but rather under its cover glass on the bottom of its front face.
Meanwhile, Synaptics turned out to be the sensor maker that first succeeded in getting its in-display technology to market in a smartphone, in the form of Vivo’s X20 Plus UD, which launched in January. Huawei followed suit in March with its Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS, which featured an in-display fingerprint sensor from Goodix. To its credit, Goodix was actually the first sensor maker to announce that it had developed a viable in-display fingerprint sensor, back in February of 2017; and it has proceeded to become perhaps the premier supplier of in-display fingerprint sensors this year, with integrations into devices from OnePlus and Vivo, in addition to Huawei.
All of this has happened in the wake of Apple’s introduction of Face ID, its 3D facial recognition system for the iPhone, in the autumn of 2017. Going into this year, many analysts would probably have said that facial recognition would prove to be its most exciting modality; but thanks to the emergence of in-display technology, it’s quite possible that fingerprint recognition will unexpectedly take the top spot in FindBiometrics’ Year in Review survey. Of course, if you have a few minute to spare, you can help to decide!