Fingerprint scanning technology has been around for decades, but not until recent years it was adopted in personal computing and mobile devices. You may remember the chunky fingerprint scanner of older laptops that you had to swipe your thumb several times in order for it to ID you – and it wouldn’t work properly sometimes. In a matter of a few years, the technology has evolved to a level never seen before. Apple set the trend rolling when they unveiled the iPhone 5S with a very fast fingerprint scanner housed inside the home button, although the Cupertino company wasn’t the first one to launch a phone with such technology – in 2011 Motorola introduced the ATRIX 4G (oh history) with a fingerprint scanner, but it was really chunky. As fingerprint scanning technology is advancing in a fast pace, South Korean company CrucialTec has just unveiled the tiniest sensor ever, making it possible to bundle a fingerprint scanner in more convenient places than what we have today.
Called Muon, the technology requires a minimum recognition surface with an area of just 8 square millimeters. With all the hardware needs the final sensor has a dimension of around 18.72 mm2, which is considerably less than the current 64 mm2 of the Nexus 5X and 6P. Although a fingerprint scanner living inside the home button is a very clever and intuitive position for users to unlock their phones, most Android devices don’t have physical buttons. As such, manufacturers found different solutions for the problem – some added the scanner on the back, just like what we have with the new Nexus phones, and others simply added a physical button just for the biometric sensor, like the OnePlus 2. The main disadvantage of the rear sensor is that it makes it hard for the user to unlock the device when laying on a surface. The physical button needs space resulting in a bigger screen to body ratio. Sony found an interesting way of solving this on the Xperia Z5 line by bundling the sensor inside the power button that lies on the side.
These new fingerprint scanners can be easily packed almost anywhere, such as even smaller power buttons or some other dedicated area that won’t require that much space. According to the company, the technology is ready to ship and they have already sent samples to several smartphone makers, meaning that we can see these sensors on some of next year’s devices. CrucialTec has been in the spotlight before, as they were scored a patent for a fingerprint scanner embed on a touchscreen back in February, although we still didn’t see anything coming from that patent. Indeed, it would be nice to have the scanner packed inside the screen, as it would eliminate the need for any dedicated button or surface on the phone.