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After years of prototypes and fine-tuning, Qualcomm on Tuesday finally announced a fingerprint reader that uses sound to unlock your phone. Called the 3D Sonic Sensor, this technology bounces sound waves off your skin, an approach that Qualcomm claims is secure and convenient. 

Qualcomm designed the 3D Sonic Sensor to fit underneath your phone screen, giving phone-makers the ability to create in-screen fingerprint readers with this technology, rather than the in-screen optical sensors that most phone-makers with in-screen fingerprint readers use today.

This “ultrasonic” fingerprint sensor could very well form the backbone of the in-screen fingerprint reader rumored to appear in the Galaxy S10.

In-screen fingerprint readers are a hot trend in smartphone design, because they don’t take up any room on the phone face, and require less groping around than a sensor embedded on the phone’s power button or back casing. Analysts at consumer research firm IHS Markit predict that 100 million phones will have in-screen fingerprint sensors by 2019.


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