The company reps wouldn't give a timeline here, but based on the prototype's responsiveness when I tried it, I have a feeling that it'll be made available to OEMs soon. And as you'd expect, the same technology can be applied to smartphones -- Synaptics is the supplier behind the fingerprint readers on Samsung's flagship smartphones, after all. The company reps added that this will be ready for Windows Hello.
"I don't see laptops shipping without fingerprint reader in three years' time."
According to Vice President of Marketing Godfrey Cheng, Synaptics is shipping over 100 million trackpads a year these days, which explains why his company is working hard on refining the fingerprint-on-trackpad integration. "I don't see laptops shipping without fingerprint reader in three years' time. People are transitioning aggressively, probably more so on the consumer side than the business side," Cheng added. For the same reasons, Synaptics has been bolstering its fingerprint anti-spoofing technology to stay ahead of the curve: The demo I saw was able to differentiate between a real finger and its wood glue copy after a new algorithm was enabled.
Despite its increased effort in pushing integrated fingerprint readers, Synaptics is actually also looking into bringing back the fingerprint USB module, but in a much smaller form factor -- so much that it can just stay in the USB port without getting in your way. Starting in Q3, the company will be sampling its small, fully-housed IronVeil "Catalyst" fingerprint module turnkey solution (featuring the same rectangular sensor made for modern mobile devices), followed by mass-production in Q4. It'd only cost OEMs less than $40 a pop, plus the device will also be compatible with Windows Hello, so they'll only have to worry about the packaging, branding and marketing costs.
Perhaps what's more readily available is the Tt eSports Black FP gaming mouse, which we first saw back at last year's Computex and is now finally prepping for retail launch. The mouse features a Synaptics IronVeil fingerprint sensor on where your right thumb would rest, so you'll only need to register one finger here. As for the actual mouse itself, it's powered by a 5700 dpi laser sensor and features seven programmable buttons. Alas, there's no pricing info just yet.