• Qualcomm has announced a new in-display fingerprint sensor. Called the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor, it’s based on ultrasonic imaging technology.

  • Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Sensor lets phone and watch screens reliably scan fingers

  • 3D Sonic Sensor in-display fingerprint techology is coming to smartphones next year

Qualcomms 3D Sonic fingerprint sensor, it isn’t yet clear how the new solution will be differentiated from Qualcomm’s ultrasonic in-display solution announced in June of 2017, and featured in the Huawei Honor 9 smartphone launched earlier this year. In announcing the 3D Sonic Sensor at this week’s Snapdragon Technology Summit, Qualcomm offered few details; in a statement, the company said only that it’s “the only mobile solution that can accurately detect fingerprints through numerous contaminants,” adding that it “enables sleek, cutting-edge form factors while distinguishing itself from alternatives with higher levels of security and accuracy.”

In any case, the solution’s announcement at the Snapdragon Technology Summit suggests that it’s going to be an important part of Qualcomm’s product portfolio over the coming year, with the company using the event to announce and preview its new Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform. Qualcomm says the platform will support 5G connectivity, sophisticated AI and computer vision, and Augmented Reality capabilities; it’s the company’s flagship mobile chip platform for 2019, and the company is already positioning the 3D Sonic Sensor alongside it.

In-display fingerprint sensors have emerged this year as a cutting-edge new biometric technology in a small handful of mobile devices from the likes of Vivo, Huawei, and OnePlus, though the most recent devices from the latter brands have used fingerprint sensor technology from Goodix. That firm’s leading position in this area could shift over the coming year, if Qualcomm does indeed commit to the promotion of its newest solution and offers a compelling value proposition.

Vikram Aadi extensively covers Asia's personal device and connected services ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or via mail: vikram@thb2.com.

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