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article imageLG unveils a fingerprint sensor that hides beneath a glass screen

By James Walker     May 2, 2016 in Technology
LG subsidiary LG Innotek has developed a new fingerprint sensor that doesn’t need its own button to be operated. The sensor can be placed directly under a sheet of glass, opening the door to smartphones that unlock when you touch the display.
Current fingerprint sensors are accurate and fast but sometimes more inconvenient than they appear. Most devices place them on the front as a physical button, taking up space that could be used by the display. Others put them awkwardly on the rear, requiring you to reach to press it.
LG Innotek's solution is much simpler. It puts the fingerprint sensor under the glass of the display, letting it register your finger when you touch an area of the glass. Typical sensors today use a raised button to read the fingerprint. LG Innotek cut a 0.01-inch (0.3mm) thick furrow into the back of a phone's cover glass and installed the sensor inside it, lifting it closer to the display for the same accurate detection.
The company claims the module has a false acceptance rate of 0.002 percent. The figure represents the probability of the sensor authorizing a third-party user and is in-line with industry standards. LG Innotek says the new design doesn’t sacrifice the speed or reliability of fingerprint authentication.
"We are concentrating on all our resources to the development of the differentiated technology based on the creation of customer values," said Changhwan Kim, head of LG Innotek's research and development centre. "We will continue to provide convenient, safe and pleasant user experiences by launching innovative product."
Having the sensor within the glass brings further benefits. It keeps it free of scratches, completely waterproof and protected against dust, dents and scrapes. It allows phone manufacturers to experiment more with the design of their handsets, free from having to put a fingerprint sensor on the outside of the phone.
LG Innotek hasn't signaled when it will be able to bring the design to market. However, it noted that demand for fingerprint sensors is expected to dramatically increase over the next few years, citing market research firm IHS' findings that shipments could increase to 1600 million units by 2020. 499 million sensors were sold globally last year.
Fingerprint-based biometric authentication can now be found on nearly all flagship smartphones. The technique is more secure than a traditional PIN code or password and also allows users to sign-in more quickly.
Most companies have developed their own fingerprint tech for use on their handsets so LG could struggle to sell its new sensors. The design benefits that come with putting the sensor under the display glass could inspire other manufacturers to create their own versions though, creating more choice and a more convenient way to unlock phones.
More about Lg, Fingerprint, biometric authentication, Security, authentication
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