YouTuber JerryRigEverything is known for tearing phones apart to find out how durable they are, and sometimes just to explain how things work. If Vivo's new concept phones are anything to go by, the big new trend in 2018 is going to be fingerprint sensors inside of the display, better known as in-glass fingerprint readers. We've already seen a scratch test done on the glass to see if the fingerprint reader would be able to withstand the normal wear and tear that smartphone glass usually takes, but exactly how does this fascinating new technology work, and why did it take us so long to get to this point?
As the YouTuber tears down the phone, it's pretty clear that smartphones have become increasingly complex, and this complexity has largely caused difficulty in actual repairability of these types of devices. While ribbon cables are easy to remove, and some of the ports simple to take off, displays have become a single piece that typically is not meant to ever be removed from the rest of the attached electronics. Tucked behind the opaque tape that keeps the OLED display nice and black while off is a small square section where the fingerprint reader resides. Because of how OLED panels work, Vivo has been able to outfit a Synaptics fingerprint reader right underneath the display material itself, and has obviously experimented with various materials that have the same opacity as the rest of the display, all while letting enough of the image of a fingerprint into the sensor.
Fingerprint reading sensors look very much like smartphone camera sensors when you get down to it, though they're much more one-dimensional in regards to their capabilities for obvious reasons. While it's not likely you'll ever come across a situation where you'd need to actually remove the fingerprint scanner to repair a display, it's fascinating to watch how everything is put together, and catch a small glimpse of how things work behind the magic. Mobile World Congress this year brought us some amazing new tech, including a larger fingerprint reading area in Vivo's newest concept device, proving that this kind of tech won't be limited to just a small finger-sized square for long.