NFC phones and tablets with fingerprint security protection “expected later this year”

A new fingerprint sensor from Authentec is now being designed into a number of new devices so that NFC phone users can add an extra layer of protection to their mobile wallets, the company says.

Toshiba Regza T-01D with Authentec AES850 fingerprint sensor
AUTHENTEC: Earlier AES850 sensor is built into the Toshiba Regza T-01D

Biometric sensor specialist Authentec has introduced a new fingerprint verification sensor that has been specifically designed to protect access to NFC mobile wallets — and the first phones and tablets to include the product are expected to hit the market by the end of this year.

The AES2750 builds on Authentec’s existing mobile phone fingerprint sensors, featured in a number of Japanese phones such as the Docomo Regza, built by Toshiba.

The device packs a 192 by 8 pixel fingerprint sensor array and support for both multiple encryption technologies and one time password (OTP) generation. Features include a new, flat package design, with a narrow Y-dimension and rounded edges. That means, Authentec says, it can be mounted “in narrow spaces or edges of smartphones and tablets as well as through-hole glass mounting for touchscreen-enabled mobile devices”.

The AES2750 also includes the ability to interact directly with payment applications stored within an NFC secure element and provides direct NFC radio control, based on positive authentication of the user — ensuring that only the registered user of a device can gain access to the mobile wallet.

Authentec's AES2750 sensor
AES2750: “When flush mounted to a phone the sensor offers a perfectly flat and conformal surface,” says Authentec

“AuthenTec’s AES2750 provides the broadest array of integrated security features we’ve ever offered in a smart fingerprint sensor for mobile devices,” says Art Stewart, the company’s VP for smart sensor solutions. “This is a highly complementary solution to NFC m-commerce smartphones, compatible with today’s NFC and secure element subsystems to provide strong transaction security with an ease of use and convenience exceeding PIN, password or pattern-based security.

“Early feedback from smartphone and tablet OEMs has been very positive, particularly about sensor aesthetics and security, and we already have design wins for this ‘made for mobile commerce’ sensor.”

Those first devices are “expected later this year,” Authentec’s Brent Dietz has told NFC World.

And, as well as phone and tablet makers, the company is also “engaged with mobile wallet providers, carriers and handset OEMs on NFC-related programs,” CEO Larry Ciaccia told analysts during the company’s Q1 2012 earnings call last week.

“Looking at US based smartphones and NFC, we continue to work with partners to integrate fingerprint based security into various architectures spanning NFC, baseband and application processors, the OS and the secure element,” he explained.

“As the payment infrastructure continues to proliferate, there is a growing awareness of the need for effortless security to help drive user adoption,” Ciaccia added. “Our newest smart sensor will excel at supporting highly simplified, one touch transaction security.”

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