The Fingerprint Sensor Module: A Guide to How Size Impacts Reliability

By Fred Benkley, Chief Innovation Officer

The fingerprint sensor has become commonplace technology to most consumers. With many mobile phones now having an integrated fingerprint sensor to provide fast but secure access to a device, the technology has begun to infiltrate the consumer lifestyle.

The future evolution of this technology will be to create biometric-secured payment cards. Despite the similarities in the technologies to a mobile phone, the size and ergonomics needs to be different for usability and to better protect a consumer’s sensitive data.

Choosing a larger sensor seems counterintuitive in a culture that has been taught that the smaller the technology is, the more up-to-date and powerful it is. When it comes to fingerprint sensor modules for securing consumer financial payments, the opposite is the case.

Larger Sensors are More Accurate

Mobile phones have powerful internal processors with lots of memory that allow them to utilize smaller sensors more effectively. These processors help smaller pieces of data to be combined into a bigger mosaic picture that improves matching, however it is still not as effective as a larger area sensor. The sensor on a payment card won’t have this powerful processor behind it, which means that making use of a larger, more accurate sensor will be critical in order to provide the highest level of security for a card-embedded fingerprint sensor module.

Small Sensors Create Security Risks

Small sensors are not able to construct as thorough of a biometric picture of a given finger, which results in gaps in the data that they capture. Gaps in the data captured by the sensor can create security risks, as a partial fingerprint is unlikely to be unique in the same way that a complete fingerprint is. These security risks are mitigated somewhat in mobile phones since they have a powerful processor to assist them, but cards do not, making it much more difficult to protect financial data on smart cards. Larger sensors can significantly reduce these security risks.

Different Securities for Different Devices

Mobile phones and smart payment cards have different needs, and those needs are evident in the sensors used to provide biometric data. While mobile phones have a processor on board and are often focused on maximizing space, making a smaller fingerprint sensor module a logical choice, smart payment cards are simple devices without these features. Utilizing a larger sensor to capture more accurate data makes sense, and it doesn’t impact the usability or portability of the card in any way.

Larger sensors yield more accurate readings, making them more reliable and logical for protecting truly sensitive data such as banking information and financial transactions. To ensure that data is protected, larger sensors should be used where possible. These larger sensors are able to provide a more complete biometric picture, making the data difficult to infiltrate or duplicate. This additional level of accuracy and security can help protect consumers from stolen information and fraud.

When it comes to securing important data, bigger is better. Competition for access to that data will be fierce, and prioritizing consumer security and safety should be at the forefront of any company’s business model.

The previous post in our series on “Finger Print Sensor Module” looked at “Find Biometrics: Money20/20 Europe: Catching Up with IDEX Biometrics