The mobile market is a huge and growing market in which the fingerprint sensor has a natural place. A fingerprint sensor enables a unique intersection of increased security and user convenience to replace PINs and passwords, and will facilitate the growing trend of mobile payments.
In 2016, IDEX’s Cardinal touch fingerprint sensor gained strong momentum in the mobile market. The company secured its first design win with LG in December 2015, and the launch of the first LG smartphone in June 2016 marked an important commercial breakthrough for IDEX. Following this, the company experienced a significant increase in interest from mobile OEMs, leading to seven new design wins across three customers, of which two handsets were launched in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Two handsets featuring IDEX’s sensor launched from LG
Following positive reviews of IDEX’s sensor after the launch of the first LG smartphone, IDEX received a second design win with LG for a phone launched in the fourth quarter 2016. This phone was LG’s Stylo 2 V, which was a specific model for a U.S. carrier, Verizon Wireless.
IDEX fingerprint sensor in flagship model launched from Taiwanese OEM
In August 2016, IDEX announced that a major Asian smartphone customer had selected IDEX’s Cardinal touch fingerprint sensor for integration into multiple mobile handset programmes.
The company received the initial production order from this customer early in the fourth quarter and in November this mobile Taiwanese OEM launched a new flagship model featuring IDEX fingerprint sensor Cardinal Q. Also, IDEX received an additional design win with this customer in late October.
In summary, IDEX has achieved a total of five design wins with this Taiwanese OEM, of which one smartphone has been launched. IDEX expects to see further smartphone launches from this customer in the first half of 2017.
Design win for Chinese mobile OEM
Early in the fourth quarter, a Chinese smartphone OEM selected the Cardinal sensor for integration into a mobile handset. The handset is expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2017.
Product evolution in the mobile market
The mobile market is rapidly evolving towards infinity displays. Industry experts expect that flagship mobile devices will adopt costly in-display sensors, while lower end devices will have lower cost solutions on the back of the handset. In addition, new sensor technologies are emerging, for example, Apple’s rumored iris scanner on the iPhone 8.
IDEX’s off-chip technology is ideally suited both for larger sensors on the back of the handset, as well as integration into OLED displays. Off-chip sensors are made of flexible polymer, which can be the same material used to manufacture flexible OLED displays.
IDEX will prioritise to invest in extending this technology for use in next generation flexible products, including re-focussing its development resources from in-glass to in-display sensor solutions. To accelerate this development, IDEX recently strengthened its team with the addition of core display integration expertise. In the fourth quarter, IDEX appointed Mr. Stan Swearingen as the company’s Chief Products Officer. Mr. Swearingen has extensive product leadership experience from companies such as Synaptics and Atmel. In addition, Mr. Swearingen has attracted further world class talent to IDEX, particularly with display integration expertise. This talent, in addition to IDEX’s existing off-chip know-how and experience, makes the company uniquely positioned and well prepared for the next generation mobile displays.