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China-based touch IC developers to depend more on fingerprint sensors


Chinese touch controller IC companies are combating a recent decline in profitability by aggressively developing new fingerprint sensor solutions, according to a report by Digitimes.

China-based touch solution developer Goodix reports that it will be able to receive fingerprint sensor solution orders for mid-range smartphones from China brand vendors in the second half of the year as a result of its glass-covered fingerprint sensor technology.

The company also says it will become the largest fingerprint sensor solution provider in China.

Meanwhile, Chinese online payment companies Alipay and China UnionPay report that they are closing in on the finalization of their fingerprint-certified payment standards.

Aside from unlocking smartphones, the fingerprint data input will serve as a certification method for online payment, convincing major Chinese smartphone manufacturers to integrate fingerprint sensor functionality into their CNY1,000 (US$161) mid-range smartphones.

For this reason, it has become a crucial task for fingerprint sensor companies to create a reliable and low cost fingerprint sensor technology in the second half of 2015.

The four major solutions that are commonly used by fingerprint sensor developers, in terms of contact surfaces, are sapphire, glass, ceramic and film coating.

Last year, companies began mass producing both sapphire and film coating solutions, and as a result, these solutions were soon integrated into many mobile devices.

However, both these solutions have significant disadvantages, as sapphire tends to be expensive and film coating can easily flake off.

Glass and ceramic solutions’ ability to penetrate the midrange smartphone market in the second half of 2015 will depend entirely on their respective R&D and mass production schedules.

As far as China’s major touch controller IC designers are concerned, Goodix mainly focuses on glass-type solutions, Holitech Technology is only capable of providing film coating-based solutions, and Silead is mostly developing ceramic-based solutions.

Since its solutions have a high sensitivity and protection layer of over 300µm, Goodix is the only touch controller IC firm in the world that is able to mass produce glass-based fingerprint sensor solutions.

Additionally, glass has a good optical behavior, strong wear- and impact-resistance, and is more cost-effective than sapphire.

As a result, glass solutions have received orders from China-based major smartphone brand vendors such as Xiaomi and Huawei and will be used in their mid-range smartphones in the second half of 2015.

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