The mobile market is a huge and growing market in which fingerprint sensors have established a fundamental role by successfully demonstrating a unique solution that increases security as well as user convenience – replacing PINs and passwords to facilitate the growing importance of protecting personal information on mobile devices and securing mobile payments.
IDEX’s unique value proposition
IDEX has a comprehensive portfolio of capacitive fingerprint sensors and is the only supplier to offer both conventional silicon-based sensors and differentiated off-chip sensors. IDEX’s family of silicon sensors, called Cardinal, is the Company’s first generation of sensor products. Sensor size is the key driver of cost in the highly competitive silicon-based sensor segment of the mobile market, and IDEX’s Cardinal family includes lower cost sensor designed to address ultra-small, low profile fingerprint sensing applications while maintaining excellent biometric performance. IDEX’s product portfolio also includes a new series of glass and ceramic touch sensor solutions developed in partnership with CanvasBio, which combine elegant design with strong biometric performance at a very competitive price point.
Additionally, IDEX is one of only two vendors with commercially proven and patent-protected off-chip capacitive sensing technology. By separating the ASIC from the sensing array, IDEX provides mobile OEMs with increased form factor flexibility and even lower cost solutions for medium- and large-area sensors – and ultimately this technology will enable fully integrated in-display sensors.
Evidence of market penetration
IDEX secured its first design win with LG in December 2015, and the first LG smartphone was subsequently launched in June 2016, marking an important commercial breakthrough for IDEX. Following these developments, the Company experienced a significant increase in interest from mobile OEMs, leading to seven new design wins across three customers, two of which launched handsets in the fourth quarter of 2016 and another launched by a Taiwanese OEM in May 2017.
Emerging market opportunities
The mobile market is rapidly evolving towards the adoption of infinity displays, to maximize the viewable area on smartphone displays. This structural design requires the fingerprint sensor frequently positioned in the bottom-front bezel to be moved to either the back of the handset or integrated into the display itself. Given the technical challenges and potential impact on biometric performance associated with display integration, industry analysts expect that only flagship mobile devices will adopt more costly in-display sensors, while lower-end devices are likely to rely on a sensor designed into the back of the handset. Additionally, mobile OEMs are expected to increasingly adopt OLED displays in next generation devices due to a number of advantages over using current LCD panel displays.
Both the trend towards sensors being moved to the back of the handset, as well as the adoption of OLED displays represent a unique opportunity for IDEX. Sensors on the back of the phone can be larger in size, increasing the user experience through fewer enrolments and added features, such as navigation. For larger sensors, IDEX’s off-chip sensor has a significant cost advantage over silicon-based sensors and IDEX is currently marketing its new optimized off-chip sensor intended for the back of the handset. Also, as off-chip sensors can be made using the same flexible polymer material that is used to manufacture OLED displays, IDEX’s technology is ideally suited for integration into OLED displays. Given this unique and differentiating capability, IDEX’s research and development efforts in the mobile market are aggressively focused on pursuing next-generation, in-display solutions for devices with OLED displays.