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Touch ID coming to more smartphones

Date

Mia Shanley and Olof Swahnberg

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.

The exploded view of the home button which doubles as a fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s.

The exploded view of the home button which doubles as a fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s.

Swedish company Fingerprint Cards is aiming to sell its identity technology to most of the world's biggest smartphone makers, which are likely to follow Apple in offering touch recognition for mobiles from next year.

Apple's September launch of the iPhone 5S was the first smartphone with a fingerprint identity touch sensor, provided by AuthenTec, part of Apple.

Following on from this, Sweden's Fingerprint hopes to sell its own touch sensors to other big mobile phone makers like Samsung, LG Electronics and Huawei.

Touch this: The new iPhone 5S comes with with fingerprint-recognition technology.

Touch this: The new iPhone 5S comes with with fingerprint-recognition technology.

"I think at least seven or eight will launch a phone with a touch sensor in 2014," Johan Carlstrom, Fingerprint's chief executive officer, said in an interview.

He said Fingerprint Cards hoped to clinch contracts with the majority of those firms after announcing last week new touch fingerprint sensors for Android smartphones and tablets, and the Windows operating system.

Carlstrom said Fingerprint expected Samsung, the world's biggest maker of smartphones, to launch at least one smartphone - or probably even two - with either a swipe or touch fingerprint sensor next year.

The home button on the iPhone 5s houses the fingerprint scanner.

The home button on the iPhone 5s houses the fingerprint scanner.

"Samsung is well known for having multiple suppliers for most components and our goal is to be selected as one of their sensor suppliers already in 2014," he said.

Fingerprint is one of only a handful of global specialists in touch sensor technology. Rival AuthenTec was bought by Apple and Validity was bought by Synaptics in October.

Fingerprint already has contracts to supply its cheaper "swipe" fingerprint technology to Japan's Fujitsu, South Korea's Pantech and China's Konka.

The company has forecast a fivefold increase in revenues for 2014 to at least 500 million Swedish crowns ($84 million). Its share price has surged more than 600 per cent in the past year.

In October, Fingerprint was caught up in a hoax following a fake press release which claimed Samsung was buying the company for $US650 million.

The Swedish Economic Crime Authority launched a fraud probe. Carlstrom declined to comment on the case on Wednesday, saying that an investigation was underway.

Breakthrough

Fingerprint's revenues have been dominated by sales of fingerprint security products to Chinese banks like Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

But in the third quarter of this year, more than 50 per cent of revenues came from mobile phones, Carlstrom said, a trend the company expects will continue.

The group expects to secure a 60 per cent share of the smartphone market for touch sensors in 2014 and 2015, excluding Apple smartphones.

The smartphone market is growing rapidly. Worldwide smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 40 per cent year-over- year to more than 1 billion units this year, according to International Data Corporation.

Last year, when Apple bought fingerprint sensor developer AuthenTec for $US356 million this was viewed as a signal that the technology would finally go mainstream.

"It was an industry breakthrough and certainly opens the flood gates and starts a new industry," Carlstrom said.

He said that Apple, which also looked at Fingerprint back in 2010 when it was eyeing AuthenTec, sets the agenda for smartphone makers when it comes to functionality and design.

Asked if he would be open to a sale, Carlstrom said that given the industry's growth potential, he believed the company - with a $US488 million market capitalisation - was not yet fully valued.

"We are just at the beginning of the growth phase," said Carlstrom, who has spent 25 years in the telecommunications industry. "We have no intention to sell at the current time, and at current valuations," he said.

Reuters

8 comments so far

  • ...'Apple's September launch of the iPhone 5S was the first smartphone with a fingerprint identity touch sensor....'

    Sorry, pro Apple spin?

    Motorola Atrix - February 2011
    Pantech GI 100 - December 2004

    Ho hum? there's stacks of apps (free) for androids.

    Commenter
    shorty
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    December 06, 2013, 1:05PM
    • Shorty, it's completely different technology. The other devices you mention were quickly discontinued as they failed to provide a reliable solution.

      Commenter
      David
      Date and time
      December 06, 2013, 6:42PM
    • Simple alteration on story needed then, first that actually works well?

      Commenter
      Mike
      Date and time
      December 07, 2013, 12:09PM
    • Haha firstly the Pantech was not a smartphone so take that off the list you so carefully put together. However you are technically right that the Atrix was probably the first 'smartphone' with biometrics. Except the Motorola Atrix was a complete flop and was discontinued because of its incredible inaccuracy and barely sold any phones! So I can't imagine the phone released well prior to that in 2004 was any better!

      Secondly, don't pretend like apps are in the same league as hardware fingerprint technology and biometrics. That statement itself just made you lose all credibility. I'm sure big corporations would happily rely on apps for their security of sensitive information.

      I hate apple, I'm an Fandroid, but give them credit where it is due, they were able to develop and implement extremely accurate and useful biometrics into their phone. Personally I can't wait for similar technology to make its way into a Samsung Galaxy phone, I think it's a step in the right direction.

      Commenter
      Please
      Date and time
      December 07, 2013, 4:35PM
    • +1
      Love my Atrix's fingerprint scanner, oh has Apple got one now too, copy cats eh?

      Commenter
      anon
      Date and time
      December 07, 2013, 5:44PM
    • Well, actually they were right. They said "touch sensor". The phones you mentioned had those awful sensors that you have to roll your finger over to get them to register. And all reports are they work very poorly.

      Apple may not have been the first with a fingerprint sensor. But they are the first with one that actually works well. There is no need to always hate on Apple just because they make something work better than others.

      Commenter
      Curmi
      Date and time
      December 08, 2013, 10:14AM
  • Ha, ignorant perhaps? Both the phones you mention used finger swipe technology, not a touch sensor. Finger swipe works by moving your finger progressively across the sensor as it takes what effectively amounts to a photo of your fingerprint, one line of pixels at a time and then the phone puts those lines together to form a single image to verify. Incredibly inefficient and unreliable. The Moto Atrix had a greater than 50% failure to authenticate rate, completely unacceptable.

    Touch ID doesn't take a picture but uses an active array to generate EM waves that then does a 3D scan of the finger, all at once. Kind of like an Active Electronically Scanned Phased Array radar.

    Comparing the two is akin to comparing a modern jet engined fighter to a WW1 biplane.

    Commenter
    Mojo
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    December 07, 2013, 10:23AM
    • A fingerprint is a username, not a password.

      Fingerprints can be duplicated, stored and transmitted. If a fingerprint has been used as a password then it has lost it's security everywhere it's been used. For every app, site, etc, etc security will have been lost.

      You cannot change your fingerprint once it has been compromised. Have you ever suspected that a password of yours has been compromised?

      If this password is your fingerprint it can never be changed. It is insecure forever. Until the day that you die. It only takes one company storing the fingerprint to be hacked and it's lost. And even Apple, Amazon, Microsoft have all been hacked at one point or another. The risk is then not if your fingerprint password can be broken, but when. As processing becomes faster all security breaks down against the onslaught of massive processing power.

      Hence, it is an exceptionally risky idea to accept any device that uses your fingerprint as a password and not as a username.

      Commenter
      gentleman.nosh
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      December 08, 2013, 2:50AM

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