Optical Fingerprint Sensors Could Be The Next Big Thing In Mobile BiometricsJune 7, 2016 | By Fionna Agomuoh from iDigitalTimes
Fingerprint sensors are one of the most recent features implemented on popular smartphones. It is difficult to find a flagship device without a biometrics feature. Manufacturers are aiming to get consumers using fingerprint sensors for security purposes, mobile payment authentication and smartphone shortcuts, among many use cases. However, with several reports indicating many fingerprint sensors may not be as accurate or secure as manufacturers let on, new players are hoping to fill in the blanks for mass-produced mobile biometrics.
Vkansee is one such company. It claims its optical imaging fingerprint sensor is not only more powerful than the capacitive sensors currently on the market, but also that its technology can make smartphones with fingerprint sensors more visually appealing.
“The big demand for mobile companies is to go under glass [with fingerprint sensors],” Vkansee President Jason Chaikin told iDigitalTimes. “Right now when we look at mobile devices there’s a hole cut in the front, or the back like the Nexus phone or the side like the Sony phones. But the design criteria is definitely pushing toward bezel to bezel glass.”
Vkansee’s sensor can capture a fingerprint image at 2-megapixels and 2,000 dots per inch (dpi), which is about four times the resolution found on a capacitive fingerprint sensor, typically .5-megapixels and 500 dpi. This means the sensor can capture details of a fingerprint, such as sweat pores, which wouldn’t be captured by a traditional capacitive sensor. This not only increases accuracy of the sensor but also makes the sensor a better safeguard against hackers.
According to Chaikin, current smartphone trends could open smartphones up to further vulnerabilities. “All the manufacturers are requiring smaller and smaller sensors. So you’re either going to put a larger sensor on the back or you’re going to have decreased security,” Chaikin told iDigi.
However, the Vkansee sensor is quite small at 1.5mm of thickness, making it easy to place in any configuration on a device.
Vkansee attracted attention for demonstrating how a smartphone with an industry standard capacitive fingerprint sensor can be hacked into by creating a fingerprint mold out of Play Doh. The dummy fingerprint is created by having a person place their finger in dental molding putty. Then anyone can place a piece of Play Doh onto the impression and use it in place of a finger to unlock a smartphone. Vkansee has been able to unlock iPhones and Android devices with this method.
Chaikin says Vkansee is in talks with several smartphone manufacturers and hopes to see implementation of its sensors in devices in the next eight to 12 months.
“Biometrics is definitely an underused tool and now is a special time,” Chaikin told iDigi. “People are getting that biometrics isn’t just the stuff of movies it’s in our phones. We can use this tool and solve some problems.”