Fujitsu develops fingerprint sensor for mobile phones

Fujitsu has developed a compact fingerprint sensor designed for use with handsets.

Fujitsu has developed a compact fingerprint sensor designed for use with handsets.

With growing use e-commerce and e-government, the company expects the demand for an authentication function on mobile phones and other devices to increase. However, until now fingerprint sensor devices have been too large and too power-hungry to be integrated into mobile devices, said Chiaki Kuwahara, a spokeswoman for Fujitsu.

Fujitsu engineers chose to use a capacitance-based sensor system, rejecting thermal and optical scanners which it says are prone to interference.

The new capacitance-based scanner has a sensor array that can detect ridges and valleys in a fingerprint, Kuwahara said. Such sensors are usually too large to use in a mobile phone, but Fujitsu used a sensor over which the finger needs to be traced. By doing this, the sensor can be made small enough.

"By adopting the tracing style, the size is reduced and so is the production cost," Kuwahara said.

The MBF 300 sensor has a surface area of 60.2mm⊃2;, which is 10 times smaller than the existing Fujitsu sensor, and consumes less than 10 milliamperes, the company said.

Sample shipments will start in April to customers worldwide at a unit price of ¥4,000 (£21).

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