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Samsung First To Come To Market With Ultrasonic Under Display Fingerprint Sensor

by Ville-Petteri Ukonaho | Feb 21, 2019

Ultrasonic Fingerprint recognition is not a new technology. Qualcomm introduced the advanced technology already back in MWC 2015 under alias Sense ID. Since then the technology has been waiting for someone to use it. DoCoMo was supposed to bring a phone to the markets already back in 2015 and Le Max Pro was also announced with the technology on-board, but neither device ever materialised.

So now, after four years since its first appearance, Samsung is worlds first to actually bring the Qualcomm's 3D Sonic Sensor, as it is nowadays called, to smartphones in the newly launched Galaxy S10-series phones. The era of ultrasonic fingerprint recognition solutions has begun.

The under display 3D ultrasonic sensor works differently compared to the optical sensors used in other under display solutions used by OPPO, vivo, Xiaomi, Huawei and others. Optical sensor actually takes a "picture", an optical image, of the fingertip and compares that to the data stored to the secure location. Optical sensor requires a light source in poorly lit conditions but then again too much light might also hinder its performance. Reliability of optical system is currently even worse than capacitive sensors. Also, as optical scanner rely on image, fooling the system is relatively easy.

Ultrasonic fingerprint recognition works differently. Ultrasonic sensor requires no light and it does not take images. The sensors sends bursts of high-frequency ultrasonic sound to your finger and detects them when those return forming a 3D model of your fingerprints. The method is much more reliable than optical and works even with most or dirt in the fingers. Ultrasonic fingerprint recognition has under 1% failure rate which makes it the most reliable solution in the market at the moment.

The ultrasonic solution has other benefits also. The Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor can also detect blood flow so it can also be used to monitor heart rate and BMI as well as blood sugar levels. 

So it took Qualcomm four years to bring Sense ID -> 3D Sonic Sensor to the markets and Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ are the first ones to use the technology. Now that the technology is out we predict we shall see many other vendors using the solution in their smartphones in the future. 

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