Launched this week at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the next-generation ultrasonic sensors are said to represent a significant advance on existing sensors, thanks to their ability to scan through glass and metal to detect directional gestures and to operate underwater.
The devices use ultrasonic soundwaves to penetrate the skin and capture 3D details that are used to generate a detailed surface map of the fingerprint. This level of detail is beyond the reach of existing capacitive touch sensing technologies.
The sensors are capable of scanning through OLED display stacks of up to 1200um, and is claimed to be the first commercially available technology of its kind able to scan through up to 800µm of cover glass and up to 650µm of aluminium.
Qualcomm also claims that the technology is also the first commercially available solution of its kind able to detect heartbeat and blood flow.
The firm’s vice president of product management Seshu Madhavapeddy said that the technology will give consumer device manufacturers even greater design freedom, and enable the production of sleeker products.
According to Qualcomm, the sensors will be available to OEMs this month and are expected to begin appearing in commercially available devices at some point in 2018.