Sep 27, 2013

    Samsung bides its time on fingerprint tech

    SAMSUNG Electronics will not include fingerprint scanners in its new product lines until the second half of next year, because it considers the technology to be still nascent, according to analysts.

    Despite mounting speculation about the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor, Samsung did not adopt it for the Galaxy Note 3 and, instead, used its existing security technology called Knox solution.

    "We never officially admitted that Samsung was weighing the fingerprint system (against) Knox for Galaxy Note 3 for security functions. We are not yet developing the technology," a Samsung official said.

    Currently, Crucialtec is known to be the only Korean company specialising in fingerprint scanners for smartphones.

    "Samsung has to rely on the company for fingerprint functions, but its technology level is still behind Authentec in terms of patents and solutions," said Seoul-based Woori Investment & Securities analyst Kim Hye Yong.

    "It will take a year more for the company to supply stable technology."

    Apple acquired Authentec, a mobile-security-solutions company, last year for the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s.

    Currently, Pantech's Vega LTE-A smartphone uses Crucialtec's swipe-type technology, where users simply swipe their finger over a sensor surface to have their fingerprint captured.

    The iPhone 5s' "area type" sensor is known to be more accurate and faster, though the size of the sensor (the phone's home button) still remains a challenge to overcome.

    Crucialtec may have developed fingerprint technology to a certain level as it has worked with Authentec in the past. The company has been building references, through Pantech and some Chinese handset makers, to ultimately supply to Samsung, an industry source said.

    Hyundai Securities researcher Yoon Jung Sun said: "Samsung will certainly adopt fingerprint technology down the road. Fingerprint scanners are a trend rather than a necessity.

    "There seems to be few things that can be added to handsets. Smartphone-makers now face an innovation hurdle."

    He added: "In the mobile sector, Samsung has been a fast follower instead of being a risk taker. It is waiting until its rival Apple opens up the market to some extent."

    Even Apple's ambitious fingerprint system has shown how the technology is still at a nascent stage, as German hackers claimed to have bypassed the iPhone 5s' touch-fingerprint authentication system.

    In the domestic market, users do not feel the need to use the fingerprint sensor as the authentication-certificate system, which is perceived as much safer than the current level of fingerprint technology, is widely used for phone-banking services.