Worlds First Non-Optical, FBI Certified Four-Finger Scanner (Press Release)
The [Thin Film Transistor] TFT sensor has an active image area of 3.0 x 3.2, a resolution of 500dpi, and is less than 1mm thick. Ultra-Scan has begun miniaturization of the sensor control electronics to a single Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) that, when complete, will result in an integrated sensor and control electronics package measuring 3.5 x 3.5 x 0.25, powered by USB, and suitable for a variety of mobile fingerprint collection applications.
In the business, we call a multi-fingerprint reader a “slap” reader — well, some of us do anyway.
For now, the least costly single print readers, and all the slap readers I know of, are optical readers with a glass platen and some sort of internal light source for capturing an image of a fingerprint. This form factor dictates a certain hardware depth dimension, usually two inches or more. As for the single print readers, in many many applications a two inch hardware depth isn’t a deal-breaker and price is an object. With the slap readers, even though they’re expensive and heavy there are enough applications where only a slap reader will do.
So for a single print reader, if a customer can accept the depth, price comes down. If a customer has to have a slap reader, they have to accept the depth associated with optical sensors.
As mentioned above, there are a whole lot of applications where optical sensors make the most sense. Mobile, however, isn’t one of them. In mobile hardware, two inches of depth is a deal breaker at any price. Mobile devices will definitely be integrating these thin film transistor-type sensors (I’ve also seen non-optical hardware called semiconductor scanners, and capacitive readers).
Shrinking the depth of a slap reader while increasing the maximum size of a capacitive reader opens up all sorts of possibilities for mobile devices such as the capability of having the back of a mobile phone recognize users’ partial palm print as they hold the device naturally.
This seems like a pretty big deal but my guess is this type of fingerprint sensor is going to be hugely expensive for a while. But that’s the way these things go. They’re expensive before they’re cheap.