Mobile World Congress 2017 is underway in Shanghai, China - with Vivo teasing their new fingerprint sensor technology that has been embedded under the display. An impressive trick that the world thought Apple would be first to market with.
The new 'Under Display Fingerprint Scanning Solution' is based on Qualcomm's technology, and was shown off on a prototype iteration of Vivo's Xplay 6 smartphone. Vivo told Engadget: "In Vivo's R&D plan, fingerprint scanning will not be carried out by an independent button or region. It will be realised more subtly under the screen, behind the metal shell, or even in the frame. Based on ultrasonic technology, the fingerprint recognition technology can be further expanded to realize user interaction, such as gesture recognition, security verification and other fields, which will greatly enhance user experience".
The technology does allow for the fingerprint sensor to be placed all over the display, but has been limited to the lower half of the display for the prototype. Secondly, the fingerprint sensor being available all over the display also drives up the cost significantly, according to Vivo.
Qualcomm has now officially announced it was working on the technology, with the development of new fingerprint sensors that will work through displays, thick glass, and metal - and even while underwater with heartbeat and blood flow detection. Qualcomm says its technology is capable of scanning through OLED display stacks "of up to 1200um", and was the first commercially announced to scan through 800um of cover glass, and up to 650um of aluminum. This is a big improvement over the previous-gen tech that could scan under just 400um of glass or metal.
Qualcomm will have the next-gen fingerprint sensors available for both glass and metal this month for OEMs, with commercial devices expected in 1H 2018. The new sensors for displays will be made available to OEMs in Q4 2017.