NEXT Biometrics to increase fingerprint sensor production; recaps H2 2016 progress

January 9, 2017 - 

NEXT Biometrics Group CEO Tore Etholm-Idsoe penned an annual letter New Year Letter to investors where he announced the company’s intention to ramp up the volume production along with its partner Innolux in Taiwan “within the end of the first half of 2017.”

“The aim is to enter into mass production by the end of the second quarter of 2017, and the project remains on track for this timing target,” Etholm-Idsoe wrote in the letter. “A team of 25 highly skilled engineers from display industry giant Innolux and NEXT are now working on this production ramp-up project. The aim is to build a capacity of 2 million sensors per month in 2017 and to grow this capacity to 10 million fingerprint sensors per month during 2018.”

At last month’s Trustech 2016 in Cannes, France, NEXT demonstrated the world’s first flexible fingerprint sensor that adheres to all ISO standard requirements.

In the letter, Etholm-Idsoe stated that meeting all these requirements is “mandatory in high volume governmental and financial markets.”

He added that the first customers have already signed three volume orders for delivery from the second half of 2017, with the total volume of the first orders being “well above 1 million sensors.”

Etholm-Idsoe emphasized how NEXT Biometrics took key steps in 2016 toward “becoming the leading player in the field of flexible fingerprint sensors,” while securing a “strong competitive advantage within important segments of the rigid fingerprint sensor market.”

Upon realizing that the new generation ASIC will help bring the costs down in all market segments, NEXT’s management is “focusing… on keeping this project on track in the coming months.”

Etholm-Idsoe also provided a summary of NEXT’s progress during the second half of 2016, as well as announced that the company will focus on related projects and markets in 2017.

Etholm-Idsoe discussed specific accomplishments during the second half of 2016, including NEXT’s demonstration of flexible sensor smart cards at Trustech 2016, mass production of its flexible fingerprint sensors being on track for summer 2017, the successful release of the second generation rigid sensors, and the successful tests of the second generation ASIC.

After signing the first smartcard order last May, NEXT won two additional volume orders for flexible sensors. The company has since been selected as the supplier for all known smart card market volume projects.

Etholm-Idsoe also discussed several focus areas of the company for 2017 including new smart card industry volume customer projects, realization of first volume NEXT-enabled projects, continued expansion within the market for notebooks and tablets, organizational expansion, and further cost-downs and attractive margins in all market segments.

“Most of the NEXT-enabled projects have multiple year life cycles and they will implement the new generation ASIC, scheduled to be deliverable in volumes from Q3 this year,” Etholm-Idsoe said. “The new generation ASIC is on track for sampling at the end of the first quarter of 2017, and transfer to mass production early in the third quarter of this year. This will bring down production costs by more than $2.50 per sensor module. Along with other general economies of scale, NEXT will reach the cost levels estimates we previously communicated, a production cost 70% lower than competing same size/same quality sensors.”

Etholm-Idsoe also stated that the company will now report on the cost of goods sold, starting from the first quarter of 2017.

Previously reported, NEXT Biometrics Group has been chosen as the supplier of fingerprint sensors for a new smartcard application, with delivery of a first call for 150,000 flexible sensors targeted to start during the second half of 2017, after which the program is planned to expand to 350,000 units.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.