It appears that the final nail has been hammered into the iPhone’s Home button’s coffin with the news that a new fingerprint sensor that operates through glass has been developed.
We have known for some time that Apple have wanted to kill off the physical Home button but have struggled to find the technology to do it however, it seems that Qualcomm have come up with the answer.
There new “ultrasonic” fingerprint technology is pretty impressive and is capable of scanning through metal, thick glass, but most importantly through OLED panels.
According to Mashable, the technology works by emitting ultrasonic sound waves which can then capture a 3D image of your fingerprint. The Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID technology also works underwater as well as being able to detect heart beats and blood flow.
The technology has already been used on the Vivo XPlay 6, as unveiled last week at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, although this has been said to be only a ‘proof of concept’.
Qualcomm provide several of the components for Apple but their relationship has been soured due to an ongoing lawsuit.
According to Mashable it is unlikely that Apple will use Qualcomm’s technology, but will develop something in-house.
Richard Windsor of Edison Investment Research believes that it is unlikely that the under-screen scanners will appear on any commercial devices this year.
“The problem with covering the whole of the front of a smartphone with glass is that it creates a problem for fingerprint ID on the home button,” he said.
“Samsung got around this by inconveniently locating fingerprint ID on the back of the device ensuring that it gets used much less than it otherwise would.
“Another option is to put the fingerprint ID sensor on the power button which can be used to turn the screen on.
“This is currently the lead contender for the iPhone 8 as we have seen no indication that Apple has cracked the problem of putting the sensor under thick protective glass and still have it working reliably.
“Fortunately for Apple, the draw of its ecosystem is still very strong meaning that even if the sensor is on the power button or even the back, it is unlikely to meaningfully impact demand for the device.
“Hence, we don’t see Apple rolling out this technology until it is rock solid in terms of reliability.”