Synaptics Clear ID FS9500 fingerprint sensors slip under phone screens

Back when rumors were swirling about Apple's iPhone X, the prospect of where the Touch ID sensor for the device might end up was just one of the open questions. As it happened, the company eventually went so far as to basically miniaturize a Kinect, nestled it into the infamous notch, and called it Face ID. Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering later claimed that Touch ID was never even in the running for the iPhone X once Apple developed its facial-authentication tech. That outcome doesn't mean an under-glass fingerprint reader isn't a cool idea, though. As a guy with a twin brother, facial-identification tech is potentially insecure for my ugly mug. Touch ID and its ilk are still my preference, and a phone with both an edge-to-edge display and a front-mounted fingerprint reader would immediately grab my attention.

An example Clear ID FS9500 scanner. Source: Synaptics

The human interface wizards at Synaptics seem poised to make that combination possible in some of the wide range of "infinity display" Android flagship phones set to arrive in the near future. The company's Clear ID FS9500 family of fingerprint scanners, launching today, promise all the convenience of a front-mounted fingerprint scanner without the need for a button to house it or a bezel around that button. With one of these sensors underneath a display, folks might be able to have their infinity-display cake and eat it, too.

The way the Clear ID sensor works seems rather novel. To start with, the sensor has to be paired with an OLED display. When it's activated, an FS9500 sensor will use part of the OLED panel above it to illuminate the print of the finger resting there. The light reflected by the user's finger then passes back through the substrate of the OLED display to be processed by the sensor itself. Synaptics claims that its sensor can work as the bottom slice of bread under a meat stack of display components up to 1.5 mm thick, and that it can be integrated with OLED screens using standard optical production materials and processes.

Sensing the finger is just one concern with biometrics, of course. Synaptics promises that users' biometric information will be protected by its SentryPoint suite of security and anti-spoofing technologies. The FS9500 can adaptively improve recognition of a user's fingerprint, resist reproductions of a user's print, and protect information in transit from the sensor to the host using TLS, AES encryption, and ECC to ensure security and authenticity. The company also notes that because the sensor is embedded under the display, it's much better poised to resist moisture, abuse, and grime than an externally-exposed button.

A camouflaged version of the production phone with Synaptics' under-display fingerprint sensor inside. Source: Synaptics

Although the company didn't announce any design wins today, it says it'll be demonstrating an in-production, soon-to-be-announced "Tier 1" phone with the sensor on board at CES 2018. If you notice a flood of phones with under-glass fingerprint scanners on board next year, it's a likely bet that many will be built around an FS9500 sensor of some kind. Stay tuned.

Comments closed
    • LostCat
    • 5 years ago

    Only if it gets on an HP phone.

    • 5 years ago

    [url=<]Impressive. Very nice.[/url<]

    • flip-mode
    • 5 years ago

    I love sliding my finger up the backside. /rimshot

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 5 years ago

    +3 for easy going attitude.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 5 years ago


    • ddarko
    • 5 years ago

    Synaptics – hmm, does this come with their complimentary keylogger too?

    • cygnus1
    • 5 years ago

    I mean, if you don’t keep any personal info on your phone or maybe don’t see people for weeks at a time you wouldn’t need that. But the rest of us like the convenience of having personal data on our device and live near other people we don’t know. That means some layer of security is needed for most people.

    • Wirko
    • 5 years ago

    I’m keeping my old MP3 player for the same reason: it’s full of real buttons! So easy to operate without looking.

    • Bonusbartus
    • 5 years ago

    No you aren’t. I prefer physical buttons and I hate the trend of removing them.
    Not just on smartphones though, a lot of products swap out physical buttons for on-screen buttons, or just remove buttons making you to push some weird combination of presses to get functionality you normally had under a single press.
    And the worst place to remove physiscal buttons in my opinion is cars… how am I supposed to keep my eyes on the road when I cannot find the stupid buttons on those in-car navigation/media-thing screens?

    • auxy
    • 5 years ago

    Physical buttons, removable batteries, expandable storage, physical jacks for more than just headphone, root access… all things that I like on a smartphone, and all things that nobody PUTS on a smartphone anymore! (-_-メ)

    I really really really liked smartphones when they first came around cuz there seemed to be a real push to make a genuine handheld computer device thing. Now they’re just consumer-focused garbage like TVs and there are no devices for enthusiasts. At least with displays we have monitors, but… (ノД`)・゜・。

    I’ve been saying for a LONG time now that if someone made a side-clamshell phone with a full QWERTY physical keyboard and stereo speakers inside, as well as the features above, I’d overpay for it so hard. Sort of a modernized version of the [url=<]LG VX9900 (Verizon enV)[/url<], but they can leave the external screen and buttons off. Make it super durable cuz it's a clamshell, gimme a ~4" 720p touchscreen inside and some decent-sounding little speakers, as well as a big fat battery and the features in the first paragraph, and I'll give you four figures for it. Really! (*'▽') I guess I'm the only one who'd like that, though. ( ;∀;)

    • derFunkenstein
    • 5 years ago

    I hope this takes off. I like my Pixel 2 and all, but I bought into the hype that your finger naturally rests in that spot on the back. Not my stubby fingers. Would much rather have a fingerprint reader I can see.

    Also more convenient to unlock when it’s on my desk that way.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 5 years ago

    I think I like the physical buttons more, but I haven’t tried FaceID, so I don’t know that I wouldn’t like that instead. My current iPhone 7+ has the “physical” button, aka dedicated round glass area that doesn’t actually depress.

    • tsk
    • 5 years ago

    Srsly bro?

    • yeeeeman
    • 5 years ago

    I never used any kind of screen locks, passwords or fingerprints on my phones. I don’t actually understand why they bother so much with this stuff. A power button is enough…

    • willmore
    • 5 years ago

    It sounds like you are. Sorry.

    • Beahmont
    • 5 years ago

    Wait? Am I the only one left who actually likes a physical button for this stuff?

    I’ve had a phone that didn’t have a physical home button and a phone that had a physical home button and I like the phone with the button a lot more.

    • dodozoid
    • 5 years ago

    I wouldnt bet on that, authenticaly looking cases and Samsung Health screenshots put the FPS on the back, but this time below the camera.
    Perhaps S9 was to far in development or volume available to low for this to be incorporated?

    • dodozoid
    • 5 years ago

    Yep, fingerprint generation is rather stochastic developmental process

    edit: clarification

    • Kretschmer
    • 5 years ago

    This was supposed to be in the Galaxy S8. Instead Samsung needed to scramble to add the sensor to the back on the unit, slapping it next to the camera sensor (the worst location possible).

    • DancinJack
    • 5 years ago

    So probably a Galaxy S9 will be the first? It’d save them from putting their fingerprint sensor off-center and way too high on the back of ANOTHER phone.

    • LocalCitizen
    • 5 years ago

    i guess it’s safe to conclude identical twins do not have identical fingerprints.

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