Vivo phone shows off Qualcomm’s under-screen fingerprint tech

No buttons required: Vivo's screen uses ultrasonics, beating the next iPhone to the punch.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read
Watch this: It's real: Vivo phone scans fingerprints under the screen

First came fingerprint-enabled buttons. Next, expect screens with fingerprint sensors included.

Qualcomm unveiled its own under-screen fingerprint-sensing technology at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Shanghai, and Chinese phone maker Vivo is the first to use the technology in a phone. A video, released by Vivo, shows off the idea in action (as a concept).

The technology uses piezoelectrics to send ultrasonic waves through the display glass to read fingerprints. It will even work with wet fingers -- so it'll come in handy with water-resistant tech, too. 

Vivo is using the tech in a modified Vivo XPlay 6. Mashable reported the news yesterday before the phone's debut at Mobile World Congress. According to Richard Lai of Engadget, the fingerprint scanning is a little laggy on the prototype.

According to Qualcomm's press release, the tech will be available as an integrated solution for Qualcomm Snapdragon, and for non-Snapdragon hardware. The ultrasonic technology can work through OLED displays, glass, or aluminum, and will arrive in two waves: Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for Glass and Metal, and Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for Display. Handset makers will get a chance to use the glass and metal-working version this month, but won't get the display-enabled sensor until the fourth quarter of this year. Phones could ship with the hardware by the first half of 2018, according to Qualcomm, who explained the technology to CNET earlier.

It has been reported that Apple's next iPhone could have an under-the-screen fingerprint reader, though -- given the royalty feud between Qualcomm and Apple -- the iPhone maker could well be using its own technology.   

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