Rumor: Chromium Code Points To Fingerprint-Locked Chromebooks

In the tech world, security is on the receiving end of a ton of focus lately, with just about everybody in the space coming up to bat to find new ways to protect their customers from data breaches. One of the major ways that this has been accomplished in recent years is with fingerprint scanners. Just about every flagship smartphone sports them, as well as a growing number of laptops, with the feature even trickling down into the low end of the business market these days. Thus far, however, Chromebooks have failed to jump on board with the fingerprint scanning trend. According to some code in the Chromium repository, the open-source base for Chrome and Chrome OS, that may change in the very near future.

A mysterious upcoming Chromebook by the internal name of "Kevin" will be the first Chromebook to sport a system board that's currently in development, nicknamed "Gru". A recent code update in Chromium directly references Gru, and seems to be code for fingerprint support. The code is only in testing at the moment, and has yet to make it into any official builds of Chrome or Chromium. At this point, nobody has stepped up to the plate to compile the code themselves and see what happens, either. In any case, evidence points to the Gru system board carrying the capability, which means that Kevin would be the first Chromebook to have support for fingerprint scanning, if the code does end up implemented in Gru's final revision.

Code referring to Kevin paints the upcoming Chromebook as a 360 degree convertible device, which opens it up for multiple methods of implementation for the fingerprint scanner, if there will be one. The classic method of having a fingerprint scanner on the inside of the laptop somewhere near the keyboard, as seen on recent Lenovo Thinkpad devices, would be the easiest, but the Chromebook could be made a good bit slicker by putting that scanner inside the laptop's touchpad, or sticking it under the display glass. Although ultrasonic fingerprint sensors are still expensive and hard to implement, Synaptics recently developed a module that can work underneath a glass substrate, which means that a small section of the bezel near the display could potentially house the fingerprint sensor. Regardless of whether Kevin gets a fingerprint sensor or how it is handled, the feature is long overdue for Google's desktop and laptop ecosystem, and all the evidence points to it becoming a standard feature in the near future.

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