Your Next Smartphone Screen Will Read Your Fingerprints (Video)

It's no secret that smartphone security is a bad joke. Most users either have no password at all or they have a simple line pattern that's easy to guess. Even alphanumeric passwords aren't that hard to crack. Enter the fingerprint reader. Apple recently purchased AuthenTec's embedded security division so it can bring biometric logins to the iPhone. Now, Validity Sensors, a company which supplies fingerprint readers to laptop makers such as Hewlett Packard, wants to bring its technology to Android and other smartphones.

MORE: How Secure is the New iPhone's Fingerprint Security?

At CES last week, Validity Director of Technical Marketing Dough Vargha showed off a Samsung Android phone that had been specially modified to include a fingerprint sensor underneath the glass. In just one swipe, Vargha was able to log in to the Android phone. 

"Not only does that provide a simple user experience, [but] it also is high security," he told us. "It's easy to hack a four-digit PIN, but a fingerprint belongs to you and you only."

Vargha explained that fingerprint authentication, which Validity calls "Natural Login," will be used not only to log into a device, but also to validate ecommerce transactions. So, even after you've already unlocked your phone, you may need to reauthenticate to confirm a purchase or a money transfer from a bank. Ultimately, the security will be up to the bank or store, but forcing you to swipe your finger again should help limit fraud even further.

In addition to placing its sensor under the phone's front glass, Validity can also turn a hardware home button into the fingerprint reader. So, if your phone has a large home button like the one found on the LG Optimus L9, that button can double as a sensor.

Validity has yet to announce any mobile partners, but the company hopes to start integrate its technology into top-tier smartphones in the near future.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.