The Synaptics SecurePad is a new integrated biometric scanner that is built into a notebook's trackpad and which PC makers will be able to incorporate into their latest models.
Notebooks with fingerprint scanners are nothing new, especially in enterprise circles, but what makes the SecurePad noteworthy is firstly that it conforms to FIDO's standards -- The FIDO Alliance is the organization backed by a host of heavy hitters including Google and PayPal that is pushing for biometrics to replace passwords for consumer security.
And secondly, that unlike scanners of old, which were not that reliable, accurate or user-friendly, the SecurePad can be seamlessly integrated into either a touchpad, click pad or force pad and is much easier to use. Simply hold a finger down until the light changes color.
As well as unlocking a notebook or individual files, the system could also be programmed to work as a biometric key for logging into web accounts and validating purchases.
"Digital security has never been more important to consumers as it is today and while users understand the necessity for protecting their digital information, username and passwords are no longer a reliable method of security against today's cyber threats," said Patrick Moorhead, founder, president and principal analyst for Moor Insight and Strategy of the device. "The growing adoption of fingerprint ID technology gives OEMs the opportunity to implement modern security solutions that give consumers a convenient and easy-to-use method for protecting their data."
At the moment, there are very few easily accessible consumer electronic devices that feature biometric security, save the Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phablet and, of course all the flagship iPhones since the launch of the iPhone 5S in 2013.
However, that is all about to change. As well as the SecurePad, which is expected to start turning up in premium ultrabooks in early 2015 -- there could even be one or two at this year's International CES in January, Google is also expected to add a fingerprint scanner to its 2015 Nexus smartphones and tablets devices.
Synaptics already provides the fingerprint scanning sensors that Samsung uses in its latest handsets and according to a recent report in Ars Technica, Google's current Nexus 6 handset, which launched in November, was initially designed around the same biometric technology, only for the feature to be dropped in the 11th hour.