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The Gradient Of Biometric Security In Smartphones – Where It All Began & What’s Next

Smartphone security is one of the most if not the most important aspect of a modern device. The security features of any device in this matter are considered to hold a key value which can either make or break the mind of an enthusiast. Biometric security has taken a sharp turn into smartphones and is a must-have feature in almost every smartphone.

Fingerprint scanners out of all have come on top and have become a part of daily life and provide fast effective security to users. While being extremely secure the technology itself isn’t perfect and has some flaws here and there. Fortunately, manufacturers have given a fair bit of importance to smartphone security/privacy and have been in active development of better alternatives.

Biometric Security In Smartphones – Where It All Started

The concept of fingerprint scanners gained ground when Apple showcased the iPhone 5s has a fingerprint sensor on the home button. Moreover, Samsung came up with the Galaxy S5 having a fingerprint sensor in a very similar fashion. Ever since then, capacitive fingerprint sensors have flooded smartphone markets and literally every phone starting from budget, midrange and all the way up to the premium level has a fingerprint sensor.

Manufacturers ever since then have come a long way and it shows how much we’ve progressed over the course of only a few years. Smartphones have come up with facial recognition technologies providing a heightened level of security better than ever before. The iPhone X for that matter has taken this a step forward, removing the fingerprint sensor as a whole and relying completely on the facial recognition feature termed “Face ID”. The primary question at play here is what could be next?

While most smartphones do come equipped with facial recognition features, the array of sensors required for it to beat the fingerprint sensor take up a fair bit of real estate that too in the front of the device. Moreover, having a single front-facing camera with facial features wouldn’t ever be as secure as a traditional fingerprint sensor which then defeats the purpose. This meant that the fingerprint sensor is still the most reliable method of security.

New Innovation Or Just Pure Gimmicks?

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Over the span of a couple of years, fingerprint sensors themselves have come a long way. Gone are the days when sensors used to be highly inaccurate and inefficient. As of late 2018 under display fingerprint technology has garnered countless hosts with major smartphone manufacturers like Huawei, Xiaomi, OnePlus and more hopping on the bandwagon. While capacitive fingerprint sensors had no major flaws, having an under display one is definitely futuristic and more modern looking. Although the new concept is more gimmick than practicality.

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The optical in display fingerprint sensor uses a bright light which flashes once triggered. It flashes on the finger and produces a high resolution image which then determines the ridges of the fingerprint and stores the image in its database. Once that image is obtained from the sensor, the phone unlocks. Now, the technology is amazing and indeed a step towards the future but is substancialy slower than traditional methods. Moreover, this requires a bright light to be lit in order for the sensor to notice anything which might be considered annoying to some.

Samsung in this matter, however, has come up with an alternative in display technology which achieves the same goal but with a different perspective. The Galaxy S10 is the first ever smartphone to feature an ultrasonic in display fingerprint sensor. The ultrasonic sensor as the name suggests emits frequencies of extremely small wavelengths once activated to map out the ridges of the fingerprint. As a result, the obtained sensor is far more efficient and secure than the optical one and maintains the in-display factor.

What To Expect In The Future – What’s Next?

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While the race for biometric security continues LG has brought in a “Palm Sensor” with their new G8 ThinQ. The Palm sensor is a series of sensors most noticeably the IR sensor which tracks the haemoglobin in your hand’s veins and uses that to identify a unique signature. As ridiculous the technology may sound, it actually works and LG has stated that palm ID is a secure way of unlocking the phone. While the technology is still pretty new and very immature manufacturers are constantly working to improve security in their smartphones.

With fingerprints, Iris scanners, facial recognition and now palm scanning out of the way what could be next? My speculation says that at this current point in time, we are at our highest point and moving ahead atleast a couple of years ahead would only hold gimmicks and more gimmicks.

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Ibtehaj Temuri

Ibtehaj Temuri here reporting from duty. My interests generally manoeuvre around smartphones, video games and works of fiction. I'm responsible for GeeksULTD's daily news and editorial section. Follow along with me on my social media platforms and even take some of your time out to constructively criticize me. Let's have a discussion, shall we?
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