Synaptics’ new sensors point to button-free fingerprint readers

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The FS9100 name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but then, no one really chooses fingerprint scanners for their flashy name. The latest technology from Synaptics could, however, very well alter the way smartphone manufacturers approach biometric unlocking, making it possible to embed a sensor under up to one millimeter of glass.

That means, among other things, that phone makers will be able to maintain a contiguous piece of glass on the front of the device, while maintaining the unlocking functionality — which could, in turn, signal the death of the home button for many manufacturers (those who haven’t already opted to move it to the rear of the device).

Embedding the technology under the front glass adds durability to the phone (the home button often serving as a weak point) and protects the spot from scratching and water. And the new technology apparently also works well with wet fingers, according to the company.

The component company isn’t saying a lot about what drives the new tech right now. Here’s about as close as it gets: “the advanced FS9100 sensor leverages unique Synaptics optical technology developed for mobile devices and breaks through key technical barriers with an extremely thin form factor and minimal power consumption.”

It’s scheduled to start rolling out in the first quarter of next year, with mass production beginning the quarter thereafter.

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