Best Security: Qualcomm Sense ID & Vkansee Fingerprint Scanner – Mobile World Congress 2015 Awards

March 13, 2015 | Seth Colaner, Matt Humrick & Alex Davies from Tom's Hardware

Security was an important topic again this year at MWC. With apps for encrypting messages, to virtual machines for sandboxing apps, to encrypted phones claiming to be unhackable, it was difficult to put our finger on just a single solution. So instead, we chose two different fingerprint scanners that overcome the limitations of current capacitive sensors.

Qualcomm’s Sense ID is a FIDO-compliant ultrasonic fingerprint scanner that uses sound waves to penetrate the outer layer of skin, imaging not just the ridges and valleys but the sweat pores of your fingertip. Because sound travels well through water, this sensor still works even if your finger is wet or covered in hand lotion, something existing capacitive sensors like Apple’s Touch ID have trouble with.

If improved security and accuracy aren’t enough, Sense ID’s ability to work through glass, metal and plastic means OEMs don’t need to cut holes in the cover glass or housing for the sensor, leading to sleeker looking designs.

Qualcomm wasn’t the only company to show off cool fingerprint scanning technology, though. Vkansee, a company with a background in forensic fingerprint scanning, revealed its new UTFIS optical scanner.

Replacing the bulky prism-and-lens system used by traditional optical scanners with a thin film Matrix Pinhole Imaging Sensor (MAPIS), this new technology can be easily integrated below the cover glass of smartphones and tablets. With a 2000ppi imaging resolution, Vkansee’s scanner can also detect details such as sweat pores. Based on the demo we saw, this optical scanner also works with wet fingers.

Both of these technologies offer big improvements in security and accuracy over existing capacitive sensors and should find their way into products later this year.