Over the last so many years, there has been a major push to build fingerprint sensing capabilities that can be placed under a screen so that smartphones and other devices won’t require an additional area (ie, on the back) and a stand-alone sensor for this to be accomplished with. Although a few have achieved their first-generation approaches to this, these solutions haven’t been the most ideal when it comes to accuracy because of how light travels between the layers of the display, and have been mostly limited to OLED equipped devices.
3M, however, is looking to be one of the first to solve this. They’ve announced their new Near Infrared Transmission System (NITS), which involves micro-thin optical display films that can be placed anywhere behind an LCD screen. These films allow light to travel properly between the layers, allowing for an IR emitter/sensor to be able to read what it needs to function correctly.
They are promising that this will lead to cost-effective solutions for any device to be able to make use of an IR-based fingerprint sensor with an (also) affordable LCD screen. Thus, entry-level smartphones and tablets could make use of this, as well as any other device sporting an LCD display.
There is no telling how long it will take before we start seeing devices enter the market sporting 3M’s new NITS technology. We might not see anything until next year or later. However, it does open many doors when it comes to fingerprint security within the many devices that surround us every day.