Monday, February 25, 2013

New Dell tablet appears to have a static fingerprint reader

Judging by one of the photos accompanying this item at, the new Dell Latitude 10 tablet incorporates a static fingerprint reader on the back.

The "static" part of static fingerprint reader refers to the finger as the user interacts with the hardware. With a static reader the finger is held stationary against the sensor. The swipe reader requires the user to drag a finger across the sensor. Though the software behind the swipe reader sensor has improved over time, I've found the swipe sensors more difficult to use than static sensors. Nevertheless, probably due to cost considerations and the availability of real estate available for situating the sensor hardware, the swipe fingerprint readers were preferred by the first generation of hardware manufacturers to incorporate fingerprint sensors into mobile devices like laptops and mobile phones.

So, it seems like some combination of the following statements must be true:
-The hardware cost of the static sensors, compared to swipe sensors, has come down*;
-The static reader hardware has gotten smaller;
-The market demand for fingerprint biometrics on mobile hardware has risen;
-And I'm not the only one who prefers using static readers.

Another observation:
It's difficult to tell from the photo, but the fingerprint reader still looks awfully small — roughly the size of the cell phone camera also visible in the image.

Here's a good static vs. swipe summary.

*To keep this apples to apples we're going to leave optical scanners out of this discussion altogether.