Fingerprint technology uses ultrasonic for precision

3rd March 2015
Barney Scott

Qualcomm is extending its mobile security leadership with the launch of Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint Technology, the mobile industry’s first 3D fingerprinting system based on ultrasonic technology. Qualcomm’s offering is designed to provide enhanced authentication capabilities, usability and integration by utilising technology developed for government-grade biometric solutions.

This authentication platform utilises Qualcomm SecureMSM technology and the Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) Alliance Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) specification to provide password-free authentication, further improving interoperability among online devices and addressing the challenge of creating and remembering multiple usernames and passwords. This standard for mobile device authentication and browser plug-ins is designed to allow any website or cloud application that offers FIDO authentication to interface with a broad variety of existing and future FIDO devices.

Qualcomm says its ultrasonic fingerprint technology has a number of distinct advantages over capacitive touch-based fingerprint technologies, including the ability to scan through a smartphone cover that is made of glass, aluminum, stainless steel, sapphire and plastics. This distinct and valuable advantage provides Qualcomm’s OEM customers with the flexibility to design next-gen elegant, innovative, differentiated devices.

User experience is also improved by being able to scan through various contaminants that might be present on the finger, such as sweat, hand lotion and condensation, providing a more consistent and accurate method of authentication. Additionally, Qualcomm’s ultrasonic-based solution uses sound waves to directly penetrate the outer layers of skin, detecting three-dimensional details and unique fingerprint characteristics, including fingerprint ridges and sweat pores that are not possible to detect with current capacitive touch-based fingerprint technologies. The result is a highly detailed surface map of the fingerprint which is difficult to imitate or spoof.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint Technology consists of a Qualcomm Biometric IC (QBIC), custom sensor technology, and algorithms managed by SecureMSM technology, which helps to secure user privacy and personal data on-device. This technology is being introduced in conjunction with the Snapdragon 810 and Snapdragon 425 processors. Snapdragon Sense ID 3D fingerprint technology is designed to be compatible with all Snapdragon 400 series, 600 series and 800 series processors.

Additionally, Qualcomm is supporting further biometric authentication advancements by serving on the FIDO Alliance and IBIA (International Biometric Industry Association) Board of Directors, working closely with ecosystem leaders to create innovative biometrics solutions.

“Mobile devices increasingly store our most valuable and sensitive information, while passwords alone do not provide the protection consumers deserve,” said Raj Talluri, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Qualcomm. “Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint Technology’s unique use of ultrasonic technology revolutionises biometrics from 2D to 3D, allowing for greater accuracy, privacy and stronger authentication. We are very proud to bring the mobile industry’s first ultrasonic-based biometric authentication technology to mobile device manufacturers and their customers, who will benefit from the improved and differentiated user experience.”

Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint Technology is expected to be available in commercial devices later this year and is already in various sampling stages with most major OEMs.

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