Invention: Live fingerprint sensors for greater security
innovators Bo Pi and Yi He have developed the world's first fingerprint sensor
able to check both fingerprint patterns and the presence of blood flow. Their innovation is integrated into multiple smartphone models across several Brands, helping to prevent unauthorised access and provide unparalleled security for millions of users.
Most smartphones have fingerprint scanners which are able to verify the identity of the user and enable them to unlock their device and carry out operations such as online payments. However, the technology is not without risks - conventional fingerprint sensors can be duped by 2D renderings of a fingerprint, or even by 3D silicone fingers.
Researchers Pi and He understood the limitations of conventional sensors and decided to develop a solution. Based on their combined expertise - Pi as a physicist and technologist with extensive electrical sensing knowledge and He as a former optoelectronics professor with experience in fibreoptics and on optical devices - the pair made two key discoveries that would later form the basis of their invention. First, that infrared light sensors - typically used by doctors for medical diagnoses - could be used to measure a finger pulse. Second, that a finger pressed against a sensor forces blood out of the capillaries. These findings led to the development of a new kind of optical sensor capable of capturing these changes, while simultaneously tracing a map of the user's fingerprint. The combination of these multiple technologies makes the world's first integrated Live Finger DetectionTM (LFD) sensor developed by Pi and He almost impossible to deceive, setting a new benchmark for smartphone security.
Pi and He's patented invention was commercialised by Shenzhen Goodix Technology, which has some 2 200 employees in offices around the world. The sensor quickly gained prominence after its launch in 2016, allowing Goodix to list manufacturers LG Electronics, Huawei and Samsung Electronics among the companies using their solution. Goodix is now planning to roll out the technology to various devices used in the automotive sector among others.
Today, Pi is Chief Technology Officer at Goodix while He is R&D Director. They continue their pioneering collaborative work from Goodix's US development office in San Diego, identifying technological challenges that impact society and exploring ways to overcome them.
Live fingerprint sensors for greater security
Bo Pi (second on the left) and colleagues
Yi He (in the middle) and colleagues