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Synaptics introduces a better fingerprint sensor

The new sensors can work under glass, ceramic and polymer, are force sensing and support swipe navigation.

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The Samsung Galaxy A7, with a fingerprint sensor integrated into the home button.

Aloysius Low/CNET

A fingerprint sensor built into a smartphone display may be coming later this year.

Synaptics, which provides fingerprint sensor technology to many Android phone makers including Samsung, said this week it came out with a new family of sensors, which can be placed under glass, ceramic and polymer. Additionally, these sensors can go on the back, front or side of a device, and be square, round, pill-shaped or slim.

The sensors are force sensing and support swipe navigation, too.

All these new features could allow device makers to more seamlessly add a fingerprint sensor into future phones. The Samsung Galaxy S8, which has a nearly all-glass front and was revealed this week, moved its fingerprint sensor to the back, perhaps because this Synaptics technology wasn't yet available. Synaptics' announcement could mean that Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 phone, expected later this year, could include this new kind of sensor.

Apple's Touch ID sensor uses a different technology the company acquired through its purchase of AuthenTec. The company may be lining up a similar under-glass fingerprint sensor for its highly anticipated 10th anniversary iPhone, expected to come out in September.