New Synaptics fingerprint sensor can fit under a volume button

Fingerprint scanners are really becoming sundry, to the point that even mid-range smartphones like the Nexus 5X and, the perhaps inappropriately nameed, Huawei 5x have them. But like any additional component, they do incur costs, not only in build materials but also in design changes, especially when one has to carve out space for the sensor on the back like Huawei's smartphones or force the addition of home button like HTC's. Synaptics' new FS4304 solves both situations because it is small enough to fit under a volume rocker.

Maybe putting it under a volume rocker might not be the best idea, but the possibility just emphasizes the point. At only 3.5 mm in width, it can be integrated into that small space easily. You don't need to add a new button just for it if you prefer to keep both front and back clear of pushy bits. Now perhaps Sony has even less reason to exclude a sensor in all its smartphones, regardless of market. That is, if space was actually ever an issue.

But a conveniently placed fingerprint scanner might be of little value if it can be easily spoofed. Last year saw a number of successful attempts, at least on the research level, to fool such scanners into thinking they are reading a "fake" fingerprint as if it were a real one. To address that issue, Synaptics has upgraded its SentryPoint Secure Suite, which provides security for its fingerprint scanners, with anti-spoofing capabilities.

To be more specific, the security measure checks for the "liveness" of a fingerprint image. Previous spoofing methods allowed hackers to save a legit fingerprint image and serve it up to the sensor, effectively deceiving it and allowing access to otherwise protected data. The updated SentryPoint this time checks for a "live" fingerprint as an added measure. Whether that works for disembodied fingers as well is something we hope not to hear about just yet.

Synaptics will of course be showcasing it latest biometrics products at MWC 2016 next week. It hasn't revealed OEM partners that will incorporate the new FS4304 in their devices, but Samsung is a known customer, which could give rise to some speculation.