Qualcomm MWC 15 AH 07

We Take a Look at Qualcomm’s Ultrasound Fingerprint-Scanner at MWC ’15

March 4, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

 

Every year it seems like Qualcomm has something in store for us and while this year’s Snapdragon 810 has hardly been the stellar success they had hoped for, there’s certainly no reason to count Qualcomm out just yet. Known for their Snapdragon processors first and foremost, it’s no wonder that the Snapdragon 810 problems are raising eyebrows, but the San Diego company is known for far more than just their processors. After all, Qualcomm is one of the few companies that are so pleased with their innovation over the years that they famously have a wall of patents set up in one of their buildings. As such, it’s no surprise to see Qualcomm introducing a new technology that should make fingerprint sensors in smartphones much better in the coming years.

Qualcomm announced this earlier in the week, and they’re calling it ‘Sense ID’ and according to Qualcomm it’s one of the first 3D fingerprint sensor technologies available. It’s called ‘3D’ because unlike other technologies used in the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 for instance, Sense ID uses Ultrasound to create an image of your fingerprint. Relying on Ultrasound rather than standard capacitive touch sensors allows Sense ID to be much more accurate and of course, more secure.

We managed to take a look at this on the show floor here in Barcelona, and while it’s still very much in testing, this is a technology we could see sooner rather than later. It’s pretty much completed and only needs to be tested for use in future smartphones. Qualcomm were demonstrating this using a separate module attached to a reference device, which was neat to see. There’s not much to see right now, but this is sort of thing that will continue to make fingerprint sensors more viable in smartphones and hopefully pave the way for more standard payment solutions like Samsung Pay and Apple Pay.