Fingerprint readers and facial recognition techniques are good for adding a base level of security to your phone without sacrificing convenience. However, they have their limits. It can be hard to switch between methods on a whim, and dedicated intruders can get through if they either make you unlock your phone or develop convincing fakes. Synaptics thinks it has a solution: It's unveiling a "biometric fusion engine" that can combine results from face and fingerprint detection before letting you into a mobile device or PC. Ideally, this makes it easier to sign in even as it adds an extra layer of security.
On a basic level, this lets you choose whichever security method works best at a given moment. If it's the heart of winter and you'd rather not freeze your fingers, you don't have to think twice about using facial recognition instead. Things get clever when Synaptics uses both technologies at once, though. Your device could combine less-than-perfect results from the two sensors to make a decision, for instance. If you misplace your thumb but your eyes, you might be fine. And if you're accessing particularly sensitive data like your bank account, the fusion engine could require both sign-in methods to prove that it's really you.
It's not certain when you'll see the engine in shipping products. With that said, it's likely to be just a matter of time. Synaptics has a strong foothold in both the mobile and PC worlds, and its tech might be a strong selling point at a time when old-fashioned passwords are seemingly on the way out.Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.