Chinese smartphone company vivo made quite a big impression at Mobile World Congress Shanghai recently, unveiling the world’s first under-display fingerprint scanning technology it called vivo Under Display. Interestingly, the technology is not actually developed by vivo – the underlying tech is made by Qualcomm, and it’s called Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors.
Essentially an enhanced version of the previous generation Qualcomm Sense ID, Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors utilises ultrasonic waves to create a highly detailed map of the fingerprint, compared to previous generation capacitive-based sensors. Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors consists of sensors for Display, Glass, and Metal, supporting directional gesture support – and even underwater fingerprint matching.
What’s more, the ultrasonic technology is also capable of detecting heart beats and blood flow for “improved mobile authentication experiences”.
These new sensors are capable of scanning through OLED displays of up to 1.2mm, while the Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for Glass and Metal can scan through 0.8mm of glass and up to 0.65mm of aluminium – which is an improvement from Sense ID’s 0.4mm threshold.
“We are excited to announce Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors because they can be designed to support sleeker, cutting-edge form factors, unique mobile authentication experiences, and enhanced security authentication,” said Seshu Madhavapeddy, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
These sensors are designed to be compatible with the two new Snapdragon Mobile Platforms (Snapdragon 660 and Snapdragon 630) and future SoCs. More importantly, this technology is offered both as an integrated solution with Snapdragon Mobile Platforms, as well as a standalone version which can be used with non-Snapdragon Platforms (such as Samsung’s Exynos or MediaTek’s Helio SoCs).
vivo appears to have had a headstart in working with Qualcomm for this technology. At its booth in Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the company used a modified vivo Xplay 6 to demonstrate this feature:
While this technology is truly a big step in smartphone design, don’t expect this technology to appear on the next smartphone anytime soon. Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for Glass and Metal are expected to be available to OEMs this month, with the first commercial devices using this technology only arriving in the first half of 2018.
Meanwhile, the Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensor for Display is expected to be available for OEMs to evaluate in the fourth quarter of 2017, meaning we’re probably a good year or so before a smartphone with under-display fingerprint sensors appear in the market.