Why the heck is there a processor in a fingerprint sensor?

By Guido Bertocci, VP, Software Engineering

Competitive sensors do not have an MCU, so why bother? Recent discussions have speculated about IDEX sensors, so I wanted to provide a little insight. All IDEX sensors have an MCU. It controls fingerprint acquisition, image processing, power management and communicates with other processors on a card. Each generation of sensors has a more powerful MCU, more MIPS, more memory, but lower cost and power by using increasingly advanced silicon nodes.

Current payment card solutions have an extra low power MCU, that I call the BioMCU, because secure elements lack sufficient processing power for all the biometric algorithms. To dramatically reduce the cost of a payment card one needs to reduce the cost of the sensor and eliminate the BioMCU with all its associated components and manufacturing costs. It’s a quadruple win. Less power, less cost of materials, less cost of manufacturing and improved biometric performance.

TrustedBio family is our 3rd generation and the 1st to have sufficient processing power to support all biometric algorithms on the sensor. This gives our partners flexibility. They can use a version that does image capture and sends the encrypted image to the SE for biometric processing or they can use TrustedBio for some or all of the biometric processing and then complete a secure match on an SE.

It is our partner’s choice and depends on the capabilities of their SE and what portion of the overall solution they want to implement themselves. TrustedBio simplifies payment cards. You have an SE and TrustedBio. That’s it. No other MCU, no other glue circuits. TrustedBio builds on the excellent performance of our 2nd generation, the IDEX 3200 series, that have passed multiple certifications and are ramping in production. TrustedBio will dramatically reduce the cost of payment cards and help jump start the mass adoption that we all want.