Technological Shift Underway in Fingerprint Biometrics Arena

Precise Biometrics‘ Q3 report finds the company in the red, but a technological shift is getting underway that should help to bring the company back to profitability next year, suggests Precise Biometrics’ new corporate update.Technological Shift Underway in Fingerprint Biometrics Arena

The company’s net sales for the third quarter came in at just under SEK 10.1 million, compared to SEK 22.5 million in Q3 of 2016; and Precise Biometrics saw a net loss of SEK 7.5 million for the quarter. (The company’s financial figures have been adjusted to reflect its sale of its Tactivo smart card reader business at the start of this past summer.) The loss was anticipated in Precise Biometrics’ revised revenue guidance announced toward the end of last month, when the company disclosed that it was seeing lower sales due to pronounced competitive pressures in the mobile fingerprint sensor market. Affirming that reality in the new corporate update, Precise Biometrics CEO Håkan Persson acknowledged, “neither we nor our sensor customers have managed to win projects to the extent we had expected.”

Nevertheless, industry shifts offer cause for optimism. Persson asserts that there is “a technology shift” underway “from capacitive sensors to new sensor technologies based on, among other things, demands from mobile manufacturers for full-screen displays.” That, in turn, is leading to rising interest in ultrasonic and optical sensors, and right now Precise Biometrics is “involved in a number of such projects,” with Persson predicting that “the first product launches will be starting in the first half of 2018.”

The implication, while not explicitly stated, seems to be that Precise Biometrics is working with in-display fingerprint sensor technology, as ultrasonic and optical sensors can be embedded into the displays of mobile devices, thus allowing for large screens with no need to save room for separate fingerprint sensors. Fingerprint Cards, Precise Biometrics’ longtime hardware partner, recently asserted that it has developed viable in-display fingerprint sensor technology and is expecting to find customers for it in the first half of 2018.

In Precise Biometrics’ Q3 update, Persson goes on to note that his company has established a licensing agreement “with an Asian display manufacturer that is developing a new generation of displays for mobile phones in which fingerprint recognition is integrated into the display.” If this is one of the same projects that will see a product launch in the first half of 2018, that could mean that the first smartphones to feature such technology will arrive sooner than many analysts expect.

Meanwhile, [i]nterest in biometric payment cards is becoming tangible,” Persson says, with Precise Biometrics’ algorithm software already having been adopted for use in a new contactless biometric payment card solution from AirPlus – a Fingerprint Cards collaboration. This is a new market in which Precise Biometrics is among multiple biometrics specialists looking for growth opportunities.

Precise Biometrics is expecting an operating loss for the year. But the company appears to be well-positioned to take advantage of these market shifts, and its CEO says he is “positive about the company’s outlook, despite the weak revenue trend this quarter.”