Types Of Fingerprint Scanner: How Fingerprint Scanners Work

Fingerprint scanning is one of the most robust and secure ways of authentication. With technologies evolving, more and more devices are coming with fingerprint scanners. However many of us may not be aware of the different types of fingerprint scanners available in the market. So in this article, we will talk about Different types of fingerprint scanners and How Fingerprint scanners work

We might all know that all our fingerprints are unique. Our fingerprint differentiates us from others. And that’s the reason, for granting privileges, fingerprint authentication is widely used. Fingerprint authentication is also the more secure authentication method compare to other methods like Pin, Password, or Face authentication.

We all might be wondering how could fingerprint scanners respond so fast. How does a fingerprint can be placed inside a tiny space of smartphones? How can fingerprint scanners scan our fingers? We will come to know about all these in this article.

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What is fingerprint scanner?

A fingerprint scanner scans your fingers and matches the same with the one already stored in their database. If your fingerprint matches with the one stored then authentication will be approved. Else error will pop up that authentication is failed.

Types of fingerprint scanner

Fingerprint scanners are broadly categorized into three types.

  • Optical fingerprint scanner
  • Capacitive fingerprint scanner
  • Ultrasound fingerprint scanner.

Optical Fingerprint Scanner

Optical fingerprint scanner technology is the oldest fingerprint scanning technology that is still widely used in low-cost devices. It uses a camera to capture images of your finger and matches that with the one that was stored before. If a match is found, access gets authenticated. The camera differentiates your fingerprint images based on ridges and valleys available on your fingers.

types of fingerprint scanner

When you place your finger on the fingerprint camera, the area under your fingers becomes dark. The led lights in the scanner illuminate that area to captures the image of your finger. That image is then compared with the one available in the database.

The main issue with an optical fingerprint scanner is that you can easily manipulate the authentication. Since it authenticates purely based on images so even if you place a hard photo of your finger on the top of the scanner, it may authenticate you. Though it’s not that easy but professional can easily manipulate it.

The optical sensor was rarely used in a mobile phone as this technology requires bulky hardware that can not be accommodated in a cell phone. Mobile is very slim nowadays and optical sensors can’t get space to fit into. However, this is widely used in corporates, banks, etc.

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Capacitive Fingerprint Scanner

Almost 90% of smartphones come with capacitive scanners nowadays. Usually placed at the back of the phone except for the iPhone ( Until the iPhone 8th generation) where it is placed at the front. It is very fast to authenticate and security concerns are almost eliminated.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 fingerprint scanner

Capacitive scanners use a capacitor instead of optics as you see in an optics sensor. It differentiates your fingerprints based on the changes of capacitance. This is the same way our touch screen works.

When we touch the surface for scanning fingerprint, systems measure the change in capacitance. Our fingers have ridges and valleys. Ridges change the capacitance but valleys do not make any change. So the system connects all measured points for the ridges and creates the fingerprint to match it with the one stored in the system.

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Ultrasound Fingerprint Scanner

Ultrasound Fingerprint scanner works on the sound waves. Hardware is specially designed to send pulses to the system and measured how much it bounces back. Ridges and valleys bounce back ultrasonic sounds differently. Based on that the ultrasound Fingerprint scanners create a 3D map of the finger and match it with the one in the system to authenticate.

in display fingerprint 1536139689
Credit : Source

Ultrasound scanners are expensive and only come in premium electronic devices like high-end smartphones, smartwatches, etc.

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Where else fingerprint scanners come into play

Apart from smartphones, fingerprints are widely used in laptops. Mostly capacitive fingerprint scanners are used in a laptop. Optical fingerprint scanners are used in corporates for authentication and getting into offices. Recently fingerprint scanners are used in Banks to authenticate.

Now a day’s many apartments use biometric scanners which are mostly optical scanners. In fact, new technologies are coming up to incorporate fingerprints in cars as well.

Conclusion : Types Of Fingerprint Scanner

That’s all we have in this article. Hope you liked the article and found some useful information. If you have any queries please do write in the comment section and I will be happy to answer.

You may also like to read: Evolution of Cell phone batteries
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A 2004 batch Mechanical Engineering graduate From NIT, Agartala. Close to 16 years of experience in the field of consumer electronics and appliances domain as a Sr. Design Engineer and Team Leader in India and the United States. A gadget freak by passion and profession and in his free time love to go for a ride with his champ, Rian.

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