That’s why I was curious to try out the new Clear ID tech that maker Synpatics has been demonstrating at CES. It embeds the reader inside the screen, and is coming first to a phone from big Chinese phone maker Vivo early this year.
Using it was as natural as you would want it to be: I just held my finger over a lit-up area on the Vivo phone’s screen, and it unlocked quickly and consistently. (I also had success with a colleague’s finger.) There's always a bit of the screen on, so you can find the right spot.
The inside-the-screen tech has a rejection rate of about 2 percent, and a false acceptance rate of 1 in 50,000, both typical for the industry. Synaptics CEO Rick Bergman said it took 18 months to turn the tech from a demo into a real product that could handle issues such as dry fingers and sunlight.
This optical fingerprint sensor tech only works behind OLED screens because they’re sufficiently thin and transparent. Synaptics rival Qualcomm has announced they’re also developing a behind-the-screen reading tech, but it has yet to arrive in a finished product.
When will this tech show up on phone retailed in the U.S.? “You can certainly say every phone maker has been stopping by,” Berman said.
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