October 3, 2013
Fingerprint sensors based security applications have created a lots of buzz in the recent past. It is a well appreciated fact that fingerprint sensors technology has mass market potential. It promises to be capable of enabling a safe and personalized connected mobile usage. With industry adoption of augmented security features, we are already witnessing OEMs and app developers innovating aggressively on this front.
Let us take a look at some of these initiatives:
1. In 2011, Motorola came up with fingerprint based authentication with Atrix phones. Unfortunately, there were not too many takers for it at that time, as has been the case with most of the Motorola handsets launched in last few years. Issues - it did not always work properly and momentum was missing.
2. During the fag end of year 2012, Silicon valley based Validity Sensors launched a Mobile Natural ID Platform, providing OEMs with a flexible solution capable of meeting the unique design and security needs of smartphones and tablets. Currently being designed into products by leading OEMs, Validity’s platform consists of a sensor with customizable ID, a control IC, and all software required for integration into a mobile environment.
3. In January 2013, Fingerprint Cards, a biometric-security company based out of Sweden, announced that a Japanese OEM is planning to introduce mobile phones with fingerprint authentication very soon. The technology was claimed to be working similar to the fingerprint reader which prevents unauthorized access of the handsets. For Japan’s handset manufacturers, the focus on fingerprint based authentication could be an attempt to differentiate their handsets from those of the competitors as the Japanese players are struggling to keep up with the competition in Global handset marketplace. Kyocera, Panasonic, Sharp and Sony are among the nation’s largest phone makers.
4. Recently, Apple made lots of buzz with its new Touch ID fingerprint sensor during the iPhone 5s unveiling. The writing was on the wall, as in August, Apple had signed a $350 million deal with AuthenTec, a company known for having its own fingerprint authentication and encryption technology.
5. South Korean players are not far behind. In October 2013, Danal, a mobile payment provider, came up with the BarTong app, using fingerprint technologies of Crucialtec, which is the world's largest manufacturer of Optical Track Pad (OTP) mobile input devices. As of now, The app is available only in South Korea, but its creator is looking to expand the payment service into the US and China. It should not surprise us to see players like Samsung & LG using such apps on their handsets.
The primary value of Touch based security from a customer prospective is that many users are not aware of the security concerns with the smartphones, and don’t put the effort of keeping a pass-code. Enabling this feature requires compulsory setting up a pass-code in many cases. Some good steps towards security is better than no security at all. Making people use the security features is essential as M-Payments involve some amount of risk and are susceptible to fraud.
Fingerprint based security systems on smartphones are here to stay. Don’t be surprised if you find many new ones coming up on different platforms. This feature might be present on the specs sheet of every high end device launched by this time next year!