Flexible fingerprint sensors can be seamlessly integrated into products, bringing game-changing capabilities to biometric applications.
Today, fingerprint scanning is a very common form of biometric authentication. There is an increased need for ultra-thin sensors that can be applied to non-flat surfaces and that can be manufactured over large areas.
Flexible sensor arrays based on organic electronics are ultra-thin, light and robust. They can be made into different form factors allowing for their integration into devices with various designs. As they are made of plastic they bring cost advantages to large area manufacturing due to the low temperature process being used and high yield. FlexEnable has developed the world’s first 500 dpi flexible fingerprint sensor on plastic. The 0.3mm thick optical sensor allows for small and large area fingerprint scanning, and can also image veins. The ability to capture both the fingerprints and the veins makes this solution unique as it provides two modes of authentication and a mode for liveness detection. The sensor is also suitable for FBI certification.
Applications of FlexEnable’s flexible fingerprint sensors include:
- Mobile phones
Integrating a fingerprint scanner into a smartphone without reducing the display area is challenging. Thanks to their ultra-thinness, robustness and conformability, flexible fingerprint sensors offer alternative integration approaches not possible with rigid sensors: 1) placing the flexible fingerprint sensor under the display to enable more elegant mobile phone designs, or 2) wrapping the flexible sensor around the back cover or the side of the phone thereby making it more intuitive for the user to authenticate themselves with a single hand while holding the phone. Because the sensor is plastic and flexible, it can be designed to fit the specific shape and size needed for the phone, working around other components such as the camera lens and buttons.
With the growing use of wearable devices such as smart watches, new use cases are created. For example, users may be using their wearable device to execute payments as well as accessing information. Convenience and security is key, and integrating a fingerprint sensor in the design is a viable option. As flexible sensors can be easily conformed to the wrist they can be integrated in the watchstrap.
A recent study by Frost and Sullivan projects that one in three cars will be using biometrics for identification and personalisation by 2025. As one of the most widely used biometric technologies, fingerprint sensors have the potential to become an important part of the driver’s experience. Imagine a car that can personalise the experience for the driver when he or she touches the steering wheel: it starts, or plays favourite music, or adjusts the car’s seat height. The ability for the car to know for certain who is at the wheel at all times could also have exciting opportunities for the car insurance industry.
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