Qualcomm has a fingerprint ID technology that uses ultrasound

Qualcomm has developed its own fingerprint sensor for smartphones with the aim of tapping the increasing demand for biometric security on phones. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sense ID, announced on Monday at Mobile World Congress, isn’t the usual capacitive touch pad we’ve become accustomed to seeing on high-end smartphones. Instead Qualcomm is using ultrasonic waves to scan all of the ridges and wrinkles of your digits.

Why ultrasound? [company]Qualcomm[/company] says it can do a far deeper analysis than the 2D image created by a fingerprint mashed up against a capacitive sensor. It can look beyond the grime and sweat on your grubby fingers and even penetrate beneath the surface of your skin to identify unique 3D characteristics of your print. It’s the same biometric technology developed for government security applications, Qualcomm claimed.

The technology could also change the way that fingerprint scanners are implemented on devices. Since ultrasonic waves go through glass, aluminum, steel and plastic housings of any phone, it doesn’t need a dedicated touch pad or button to work. While the sensor itself is a separate element, it’s designed to work closely with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor line where all of the fingerprint data analysis is performed.

Qualcomm says it is already sampling the technology with device makers and expect it to debut in the first commercial handsets later this year.