Vivo unveils first smartphone with in-display fingerprint sensor at CES

Vivo's promotional photo teasing in-display fingerprint scanning.

The first smartphone to feature a fingerprint sensor embedded into its display panel has finally been unveiled. Chinese technology company Vivo has beaten other big-name smartphone manufacturers to the punch by introducing a phone with such sensor integration at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This is the first time that any manufacturer has demonstrated the technology, even though the feature has been previously speculated to be included in more popular smartphone brands.

In Vivo’s demonstration at the CES, the locked smartphone showed a small blue icon at the lower portion of the screen where the home button and fingerprint sensor would normally be located. Once the user’s finger is placed on the icon and successfully unlocks the phone, the fingerprint sensor icon disappears and the lower portion of the screen proceeds to function as a display for the phone.

The sensor works in combination with the OLED display. The display lights up the portion of the screen where the fingerprint needs to be recognized. Then, the light that reflects on the finger is captured by the sensor embedded beneath the display

The feature is an important breakthrough, as ever since the bezel-less display in smartphones became a trend, the fingerprint sensor that used to be housed on the below the display has lost the space allotted for it in favor of a larger display and narrower bezels.

Because of this, manufacturers had to make compromises in the placement of the sensor, with many opting to put it at the back of the phone. This is an awkward location of the fingerprint sensor, leading to many users smudging the rear cameras with their fingers because they mistake it for the fingerprint sensor.

Last year, Synaptics announced its new in-display fingerprint scanning technology, with Vivo being its first customer. Vivo said that the demo smartphone that sports the new technology is ready for production but did not indicate a timeline on when the feature would be made available for public consumption.