Qualcomm has launched the industry's first 3D fingerprint scanner for mobile devices [Credit: Qualcomm]

Qualcomm unveils 3D fingerprint scanner for mobile devices

Semiconductor maker Qualcomm has unveiled the world’s first 3D fingerprint scanning technology for spoof-proof authentication at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

Relying on ultrasonic sensors instead of capacitive touch-based technology employed in currently existing fingerprint scanners, the Snapdragon Sense ID captures a three-dimensional acoustic detail of the outer layers of the user's skin.

Unlike current touch-based sensor that virtually don’t see anything beyond the immediate surface, the ultrasonic technology can capture the finest characteristics of the fingerprint including ridges and sweat pores.

The resulting image data, Qualcomm said, is much less likely to be spoofed - a common challenge for capacitive-based sensors that can be tricked with a two-dimensional copy of the victim’s fingerprint.

Qualcomm believes the application paves a way for future password-less authentication that would make lives of users easier and their data safer.

With possible applications in mind, Qualcomm designed the sensor to be able to scan through various materials frequently used in smartphone manufacturing such as glass, aluminium, stainless steel, sapphire and plastics. The ability to see through various materials will free the designer’s hands, allowing them to place the sensors at various locations within the gadget.

Qualcomme said it expects first devices equipped with the technology to hit the market by the end of 2015.

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