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Is Samsung developing smartphone fingerprint scanners?

Samsung could be following Apple’s lead and testing biometric technology for future handsets.

india Updated: May 23, 2013 10:35 IST

Samsung could be following Apple’s lead and testing biometric technology for future handsets.

SamMobile, reputed for its Samsung insider knowledge, has published a set of leaked files that detail a firmware build for Samsung’s Galaxy SIII which incorporate fingerprint scanning technology. All of which suggest that Samsung is looking to incorporate biometric scanning into its devices. Rumors have been circulating for a number of months that Apple is also hard at work incorporating the same technology into its next iPhone. In July, the company bought AuthenTec, a biometric scanning company. In the SEC filing to accompany the purchase, AuthenTec wrote that its technologies "may be used solely for the purpose of developing a 2D fingerprint sensor for Apple that is suitable for use in an Apple product."

Supply chain leaks have revealed that the iPhone 5S will have a scanner embedded in its home key but that Apple has experienced problems trying to find a protective coating for the sensor that doesn’t adversely affect its sensitivity.

However, the biggest clue as to whether or not these reports are true came courtesy of PayPal. During a keynote speech at the Interop Conference in Las Vegas on May 9, the company’s chief information security officer, Michael Barrett revealed that “there is going to be a fingerprint-enabled phone in the market later this year, not just one, but multiple, because the Android ecosystem is adapting.”

Barrett was talking about the need for tighter security and for a universal technology for replacing traditional passwords for online authentication.

PayPal is a founding member of the FIDO Alliance, an organization dedicated to the eradication of the password and adoption of biometric authentication in its stead. It counts Google and Lenovo in its ranks and therefore it is not only plugged in as to what’s happening in the world of technology, but clearly has the power to make good on its manifesto.

Password security is one of the most critical issues facing internet use today and as more services migrate online, the number of unique passwords needed, as well as the risk of hacking and identity theft is also rising quickly. With both Apple and Samsung -- makers of the world's two most popular smartphones -- adopting biometric scanners, the move to a more secure and consumer-friendly web will be much quicker.

First Published: May 23, 2013 10:30 IST