Today, the fingerprint sensor market is largely covered by two businesses: FPC, from Sweden, and Synaptics, from the United States of America. We are seeing an increasing number of Android smartphones incorporate a fingerprint sensor and in 2016, the majority of flagship devices uses this biometric technology to unlock the device and in some cases, individual applications and purchases from the Google Play Store. Although smartphone sales are broadly plateauing across the world, with growth expected to slow down to around 2.5% over the next three years, industry experts are expecting fingerprint sensor use to grow as manufacturers embed more technologies into their devices in order to keep up with the competition. Against this background, Samsung is believed to be investing into building its own fingerprint reader sensors.
Samsung already builds several components that go into some of its smartphones: the company builds the Exynos chipsets, some of which are licensed to other smartphone manufacturers but the majority are used in Samsung-branded smartphones. The company also controls almost the entire AMOLED market and the majority of its smartphones now use the technology, and let's not forget Samsung's memory chips, which again are found in many smartphones across the industry. Gaining control over the underlying components of a smartphone should help the company maintain quality control, contain prices and be far more aware about potential supply issues or snags that might be around the corner. Industry experts believe that Samsung Electronics LSI division has been involved in fingerprint reader sensor development since 2015 but now the technology is close to commercial deployment: in other words, we could soon be seeing a Samsung-built fingerprint sensor used in Samsung Galaxy Android-powered smartphones. However, don't expect a Samsung fingerprint sensor in the Galaxy S8: Samsung's short term objective is to use its own sensors in lower and mid-range devices first, presumably as it refines the design of the sensor. Samsung is likely to continue using Synaptics' fingerprint sensors in the flagship models for the time being.
Samsung isn't alone in investing into fingerprint sensor technology as several other South Korean businesses are also involved in the industry, and we need to add that there hasn't been any sort of confirmation from Samsung. In order for the company to produce its own sensors, it will need to both develop the controller chip and use software from a company based in Sweden, Precise Biometrics, plus use CMOS image sensors.