Japan Display has announced the development of its very first transparent glass-based capacitive fingerprint sensor that uses an in-house capacitive multi-touch technology, which was originally exclusive to LCD panels. The new sensor is expected to reach commercial shipments in the fiscal year 2018. It could eventually be transformed as an upgrade of traditional, silicon-based fingerprint sensors that are based on silicon and is likely to available as an alternative to the recently arrived under-display fingerprint sensors that are currently in the production process by companies such as Qualcomm and Synaptics.
The glass-based capacitive fingerprint sensor leverages Japan Display's Pixel Eye technology that integrates touch functionality into the glass substrate. The technology is already powering the markets of smartphones and digital still cameras to offer multi-touch support. Further, the Japanese display maker has refined the technology to detect the changes in capacitance caused by the recesses and ridges of fingerprints. The sensor is aimed to be available in a variety of sizes, including the one in 8x8mm size.
Going forward, Japan Display also has plans to build flexible fingerprint sensors by utilising its existing flexible display technology. These would take fingerprint recognition to the next level. In the meantime, what will soon be the reality is the first glass-based fingerprint sensor that would be a part of future smartphones.
Japan Display believes that its transparent solution will lead to the expansion of fingerprint sensors in new areas of application. We can certainly presume one such area as smartphones as biometric has already been a big thing in the ever-growing smartphone market. Apple brought its Face ID last year as an upgrade to the fingerprint recognition feature Touch ID that was arrived on the iPhone 5s in 2013. Likewise, Synaptics lately developed its under display fingerprint sensors to offer the market an upgrade to the traditional fingerprint sensors.
Synaptics claimed that its proprietary under-display fingerprint sensor technology is as fast as alternative biometrics methods such as Apple's Face ID and is highly secured. It basically sits between the glass protection and OLED panel and is touted to be capable of recognising fingerprints under layers up to 1.5mm thick, including a screen protector. As per Synaptics, the advanced fingerprint sensor technology can even work with wet, dry, and cold fingers, which is not possible with the silicon-based fingerprint sensors.
The first Synaptics Clear ID sensor is already available on the newly launched Vivo X20 Plus UD, which is arriving in China on February 1. The smartphone comes at a price of CNY 3,598 (roughly Rs. 36,100).
Qualcomm is also in the race of advancing the available fingerprint solutions. The San Diego-based company showcased its first ultrasonic fingerprint technology at Mobile World Congress Shanghai in June last year. But no further details have so far been announced on that front.
Having said that, the new sensor technology by Japan Display is expected to bring affordability as it will enable smartphone makers to add a transparent fingerprint sensor on top of an LCD panel, instead of an OLED panel that was showcased by Synaptics in the past. Similarly, the Japanese company may even enable Apple to embed its glass-based fingerprint sensor on future iPhone models. The company was reportedly in talks to supply LCDs for the next-generation iPhones as well.