Recently at CES, the manufacturer VIVO was the first to display an in-screen fingerprint scanner. The scanner is being produced by Synaptics. This is significant, because many of the leaks over the past year for Samsung and Apple have said that there would be just this type of scanner in the devices. In fact, it appears that Apple was close to creating their own implementation but could not get it completed in time for production of their newest devices. It has now appeared in a production device and there is a strong possibility that it will be found in other devices on sale this year.
That begs the question: Is this a development that consumers will benefit from?
There are a few debates outstanding about fingerprint scanners, but the one that interests me the most is the question of placement. It is well-known that Samsung’s placement near the camera sensor is widely panned as the worse placement in any device on the market. The ideal placement is up for debate. Some feel that the iPhone-type implementation where the home button resides is best. Others are infatuated with the rear placement initially popularized by LG. I fall into the latter camp. While I readily admit that the rear placement makes it more difficult (nigh impossible) to unlock the phone quickly while it is face up on a flat surface; I must point out how much easier it is to unlock the phone while holding it naturally. The majority of my phone usage involves me actually holding my phone and the rear placement is perfect for that usage pattern.
Another thing to consider is that, with the VIVO example at least, the screen must be illuminated to allow for the print to be read. If you are a person that is regularly checking your phone, this will inevitably decrease the battery life of the phone. The impact is likely to be low, but it is certainly something to consider.
Finally, with Apple moving to Face ID as their only biometric option for their smartphones; does there exist a need to improve upon the fingerprint scanner any longer? Samsung includes a triumvirate of biometric options on their phones, but they will undoubtedly track behind Apple’s headwind in creating a Face ID impersonation of their own. Face ID is largely ergonomic because again you are holding the phone in a manner which is not unusual or awkward. The system is fast and secure. Your face doesn’t need to be clean in order for the system to work.
All things considered, I think the below screen fingerprint scanner will find its way into many devices in the near-future. But on the longer scale, I believe that technology will quickly lose favor to the more complex facial recognition systems. Do you agree with my preference of scanner location? Do you think fingerprint scanners are here to stay? Let us know in the comments below.