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Samsung granted patent for full-screen fingerprint scanner

Image credit: Dreamstime

The Korean electronics manufacturer has been granted a patent for a scanner located under the screen of a phone, effectively transforming the entire display into a fingerprint scanner.

Despite some speculation that the Samsung Galaxy S8 series and Galaxy Note 8 may feature this technology, the designs were revealed with standard fingerprint scanners located on the back of the phones.

The move towards phones with bezel-free designs such that sharp, bright displays are able to take up the entire front of the device has prompted smartphone manufacturers to develop alternatives to “home” buttons and front-mounted fingerprint sensors. Apple did away with the standard fingerprint reader with the iPhone X, instead opting for a much-publicised facial recognition system which uses a 3D scan of the user’s face to verify their identity.

Having submitted its patent application in April 2017, Samsung has now been granted a patent for a new approach to the standard fingerprint reader by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The integration of a fingerprint scanner behind the screen could mean that the only necessary bezels on future Samsung phones would be for the receiver and front-facing camera.

This fingerprint sensor is located between the top layer of the cover glass and the second layer of the touch sensor, which is in turn laid above the display panel. This allows the fingerprint sensor to cover the entire display, with the result that by simply touching the display, the phone can verify the identity of the user. The entire display would be connected to a processor able to store registered fingerprints.

The patent suggests that a future Samsung phone could have up to 12 pressure points on its display which could read fingerprints. This could allow for the fingerprint scanner to be integrated into security features.

For instance, if the authorised phone user touches icons to access photos or messages, the phone will open these apps with all images and conservatives visible. If an unknown finger is used to open these apps, however, the phone can hide private photos and conversations.

The in-display fingerprint scanner has been expected feature in the upcoming Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, although reports suggest that this model will continue to use a standard fingerprint scanner placed in the centre of the back of the phone.

An unnamed Taiwanese company has been chosen to manufacture the fingerprint scanners, although the contract between the companies has not yet been signed.

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