For some time now, speculation has been rife with regards to Apple experimenting with a form of under-display fingerprint reading technology, and understandably, some industry watchers were fully expecting the tech giant to debut this tech in an upcoming iPhone offering. But surprisingly, Vivo, a phone maker from China, has beaten Apple to the punch.
At this year’s Mobile World Congress Shanghai, chip maker Qualcomm had officially unveiled its newest ultrasonic fingerprint solution, which allows for the integration of fingerprint reading tech underneath a mobile device’s organic light emitting diode (OLED) display screen (1.2 millimeter thickness at most), as well as making it possible for such a technology to feature water proofing capabilities. Not only can it deal with moisture and dust better than the capacitive equivalent, it also performs well underneath metal and glass, but offering improved penetration -- up to 650 um for aluminum and up to 800 um for glass, compared to the standard 400 um.
Vivo is the first to make full use of Qualcomm’s latest fingerprint scanning tech, and during the MWC Shanghai event, the Chinese mobile manufacturer gamely demoed a prototype handset (that is based on its Xplay6 device) that featured the under-display fingerprint reader. Instead of the usual fingerprint button, the user only needs to place his finger on a marked area on the display.
Vivo’s demo suggests that it is possible for such a fingerprint scanning tech to be incorporated to any spot on a device’s display screen. Of course, if that were to be done, the production cost of each smartphone unit would likely increase significantly. But phone makers can work around that by limiting the coverage only within a specific range (like the bottom half of a handset’s screen, for instance).
Vivo also took the opportunity to demo how Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint solution can be applied on the rear side of a smartphone’s metallic casing. This also effectively demonstrated how the technology can work even in underwater settings. Suffice it to say that this would prove useful for those adventurous types who like capturing images while submerged underwater. It is worth noting that other phone makers are dealing with this same challenge by way of squeeze detecting technology (HTC with its newU11 device) or a physical shutter button (Sony).
Nobody knows yet when mobile users will actually get to enjoy Qualcomm’s new ultrasonic fingerprint scanning tech, but the chip maker did hint that the technology can be incorporated into mobile devices that are equipped with the Snapdragon 660 or the Snapdragon 630 processor. Also, Qualcomm says that it is looking to begin shipping its new solution to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the second half of this year.
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