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Under-display fingerprint biometrics for LCD smartphones made possible by new 3M technology



3M has developed technology it says will allow under-display optical fingerprint sensors on mobile devices with LCD displays, enabling fingerprint biometrics on smartphones with edge-to-edge LCD screens.

The new 3M Near Infrared Transmission System (3M NITS) allows phone manufacturers to offer devices with the same display, security and performance as OLED devices, but at a much lower price, according to the company announcement. It provides an advanced, micro-thin 3M display films that allow optical fingerprint sensors to capture fingerprint data through the display, enabling the home button which houses biometric sensors in many devices to be removed without losing the biometrics.

The technology not only allows fingerprint sensors to be located under the screen, 3M says they can be placed anywhere within the display, to suit convenience or usability preferences. 3M NITS technology can also support unlocking with facial biometrics or gesture recognition. The films used do not make the LCD display thicker than conventional LCD systems, and displays maintain 97 percent or more of their brightness, 3M claims. Further, their use can improve viewing angles to actually improve user experience.

“The 3M NITS technology helps LCD smartphones better compete with newer OLED alternatives, giving consumers the modern full-screen displays they want, with attractive LCD pricing,” said Quinn Sanford, an application specialist with 3M’s Display Materials & Systems Division. “Security is also a key benefit of the 3M NITS technology. Our research has found that 80 percent of smartphone owners use a fingerprint sensor to unlock their phones. The 3M NITS technology allows LCD smartphones to retain this capability, now as part of the phone’s display.”

Xiaomi is among smart device brands already using 3M NITS to redesign enhanced LCD smartphones.

In addition to smartphones and other devices with displays, 3M NITS technology can be integrated with non-display devices, such as for access control.

The backlight module in LCD devices has been a barrier to under-display fingerprinting, but the Redmi Note 8 Pro was reported to sport one earlier this year. GSMArena now shows the Redmi Note 8 Pro as having a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, however.

An Apple patent application showing an optical under-display fingerprint sensor for its Touch ID was recently published by the U.S. Patent Office.

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