The Korea Herald


Synaptics fingerprint sensors may be used in Samsung wearables in 2015

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : June 5, 2014 - 20:28

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TAIPEI ― Synaptics, a human interface solution provider, expects to use its fingerprint authentication technology in wearables next year.

“Probably, you will see fingerprint technology in wearable devices in 2015. Using fingerprint ID sensors for a small curved display is not a big challenge,” Rick Bergman, CEO of Synaptics, said at its press briefing on Wednesday in Taipei.

Though he did not name any specific companies, Samsung Electronics, the only client of Synaptics’ fingerprint technology, is expected to use the sensors for its wearable devices such as smartwatches.
Rick Bergman, CEO of Synaptics. (Synaptics) Rick Bergman, CEO of Synaptics. (Synaptics)

Better security features are expected to be needed for wearables such as fitness trackers as users may want to protect their health-related information.

However, for completely flexible devices, it will take much longer.

“We are now working with (handset) market leaders to tune into our technology for flexible devices. Still, I don’t think you will see them in the next couple of years,” he said.

Synaptics will also unveil its first small area-type fingerprint sensors in the second half of this year. The sensors will ultimately be used for wearables but will be adopted for smartphones or tablets first. Currently, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and its new Tizen smartphone Samsung Z are using Synaptics’ swipe-type fingerprint technology. Developing the area-type sensors is part of the company’s efforts to grow and diversify its biometric authentication technology.

The company now has a 90 percent market share in fingerprint sensors for smartphones, excluding Apple’s iPhone series. Synaptics has not yet provided its technology to Apple.

Regarding the possibilities of partnering with Apple, Bergman said, “We’d love to provide our technology to Apple.” However, regarding speculation that Synaptics would buy Japanese smartphone chip maker Renesas, a key supplier to Apple, he declined to comment, saying, “We cannot make any official comments on rumors or speculations about M&A.”

By Shin Ji-hye, Korea Herald correspondent