The days of having to use your power button or a separate dedicated fingerprint sensor to log into your smartphone may soon be over thanks to a new patent snagged by the biometrics developer CrucialTech. With the new patent, according to the company, fingerprint readers can be embedded into a smartphone screen itself. As the patented technology currently stands, the reader would still need to have a dedicated location but would do away with needing them to be built into other parts of the phone. Moreover, the sensor production process is very efficient and can easily be incorporated into the existing touch screen manufacturing process.
CrucialTech accomplished its goal by making the technology transparent. According to a representative from the company, in-display fingerprint modules (DFS) have been in the works at CrucialTech since at least 2012. The company also showed off some of their newest achievements at MWC 2017. However, this patent makes things much more official since it allows the company to press forward with fewer worries that their investments will not bear any returns, while CrucialTech's engineers and developers continue working to make it ready for mainstream use. In the meantime, CrucialTech also plans to "try to obtain patents for related technologies such as electrode structures, materials, and algorithms."
Biometrics are effectively a way for technology to use signature indicators of a user's body – such as the iris, facial features, or fingerprint – to create secure access methods. They aren't exactly a new thing but they have advanced quite a bit over the last several years thanks to advances in technology overall, allowing devices as small as smartphones to take advantage of them. After all, it was only a year or two ago that the most secure methods for logging in were comprised of pattern-drawing or passwords. This year, most high-end and a few mid-range devices come with fingerprint sensors built into them. Samsung's Galaxy S8 will even come with iris scanning capabilities. CrucialTech currently supplies fingerprint sensor technology for smartphone makers such as LG Electronics, Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo. So those may be the first manufacturers to have the new technology once it's ready, but as progress continues it also shouldn't be surprising to see the cost and availability of these sensors reach a point where they become ubiquitous in technology.