LG's Innotek arm unveiled a new fingerprint scanner implementation today that allows a scanner to be placed directly under a piece of glass, such as the bezel area of display cover glass on a smartphone. The new technology, then, is at least somewhat similar to Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sense ID in that it does not require an exterior element physically demarcating where the scanner sits, and can instead be basically invisible. Qualcomm's solution, though, uses ultrasonics to identify a fingerprint - LG's design appears to be of the traditional capacitive variety.

To be clear, the new technology does not allow the scanner to sit on or under the display itself - this is a problem not yet solved - merely for it to be hidden a bit better in the places where we see fingerprint scanners already.

While the technical achievement here is not in question, I do have to wonder what exactly the end user benefit is to this design versus a scanner that is part of a button or a dimple on the back of a device. After all, the button or dimple serves as the guiding point for the finger to line itself up on the scanner. Without a physical cue, it may prove harder to place your finger exactly where it needs to go to get an accepted read.

LG, for its part, does make a point that the new design helps with waterproofing, but it's not as though Samsung has had much trouble making the button-scanner water-tight on the Galaxy S7.

It's unclear when or if we can expect to see this new technology in LG's smartphones.

Press Release

LG Innotek unveils innovative fingerprint sensor module without button

Seoul, Korea, May 2, 2016 – LG Innotek (CEO Jongseok Park) today announced an under glass fingerprint sensor module. It means you just placed your finger on the cover glass of the phone and then it identifies your fingerprint.

This module gives the freedom of the smartphone design and even enhances the user-friendly function, for example, waterproof or protection from any damage.

Previous ‘button type’ modules required you to press a finger on a raised square or circular button for your fingerprint to be read exactly, so the sensor was usually mounted on the front, rear or side buttons of a smartphone.

LG Innotek cut a shallow furrow of 0.01inches (0.3mm) thick on the lower backside of the cover glass and installed the fingerprint sensor inside of it with using their supreme precision and combination technology.

With this module, the sensor is not exposed to the outside of the device, so manufacturer can produce a sleek designed smartphone. Fingerprint recognition area also can be indicated by various patterns up to design of complete product.

High-strength cover glass protects the sensor and prevents it from coming in direct contact with water or damage from scratches.

At the same time, the new module secured the fingerprint recognition accuracy compared to the button type. The new module has a false acceptance rate (FAR) of 0.002%. The FAR is the probability that the system falsely recognizes someone else's biometric information as that of the user.

LG Innotek developed a proprietary adhesive to be used to attach the sensor to the glass, securing the commercialization scale of the durability including high impact absorption.

The adherend side of the sensor and glass is only 0.0098inches (0.25mm) thick, but it endures impact of 4.6 oz (130grams) of the steel ball dropped from 7.9inch (20cm).

LG Innotek expects that demand for fingerprint recognition technology will dramatically increase due to the expansion of the mobile payment market, has a plan to secure the new customer.

Market research firm, IHS, reports approximately 499 million fingerprint sensors have been sold globally in 2015 and expects that number will increase to 1600 million units in 2020.

Changhwan Kim, Head of the company’s R&D Center said, "We are concentrating on all our resources to the development of the differentiated technology based on the creation of customer values.” “We will continue to provide convenient, safe, and pleasant user experiences by launching innovative product.”