Types Of Fingerprint Scanner: How Fingerprint Scanners Work

Fingerprint scanning is one of the most robust and secure ways of authentication. With technologies evolving, more and more devices are coming with fingerprint scanners.

However, many of us may not be aware of the different types of fingerprint scanners available in the market. So in this article will talk about Different types of fingerprint scanners and How Fingerprint scanners work.

We might all know that all our fingerprints are unique. Our fingerprint differentiates us from others. And that’s the reason, for granting privileges, fingerprint authentication is widely used.

Fingerprint authentication is also a more secure authentication method than other methods like PIN, Password, or Face authentication.

We all might be wondering how fingerprint scanners could respond so fast. How can a fingerprint be placed inside a tiny space of smartphones?

How can fingerprint scanners scan our fingers? We will come to know about all these in this article.

What is a fingerprint scanner?

A fingerprint scanner scans your fingers and matches the same with the one already stored in their database.

Suppose your fingerprint matches the one stored, and then authentication will be approved. Else error will pop up that authentication has failed.

Types of fingerprint scanners

Fingerprint scanners are broadly categorized into three types.

  • Optical fingerprint scanner
  • Capacitive fingerprint scanner
  • Ultrasound fingerprint scanner.

Optical Fingerprint Scanner

Optical fingerprint scanner technology is the oldest fingerprint scanning technology that is still widely used in low-cost devices.

It uses a camera to capture images of your finger and matches them with the one that was stored before. If a match is found, access gets authenticated. The camera differentiates your fingerprint images based on ridges and valleys available on your fingers.

types of fingerprint scanners

When you place your finger on the fingerprint camera, the area under your fingers becomes dark. The LED lights in the scanner illuminate that area to capture the image of your finger. That image is then compared with the one available in the database.

The main issue with an optical fingerprint scanner is that you can easily manipulate the authentication.

Since it authenticates purely based on images, even if you place a photo of your finger on the top of the scanner, it may authenticate you. Though it’s not that easy, professionals can easily manipulate it.

The optical sensor was rarely used in a mobile phone as this technology requires bulky hardware that can not be accommodated in a cell phone.

Mobile is very slim nowadays, and optical sensors can’t get space to fit. However, this is widely used in corporates, banks, etc.

Capacitive Fingerprint Scanner

Almost 90% of smartphones come with capacitive scanners nowadays. Usually placed at the back of the phone except for the iPhone ( Until the iPhone 8th generation), it is placed at the front. It is swift to authenticate, and security concerns are almost eliminated.

types of fingerprint scanners

Capacitive scanners use a capacitor instead of optics, as you see in an optics sensor. It differentiates your fingerprints based on the changes in capacitance. This is the same way our touch screen works.

When we touch the surface for scanning fingerprints, systems measure the change in capacitance.

Our fingers have ridges and valleys. Ridges change the capacitance, but valleys do not make any change. So the system connects all measured points for the ridges and creates the fingerprint to match it with the one stored in the system.

Ultrasound Fingerprint Scanner

An Ultrasound Fingerprint scanner works on sound waves. Hardware is specially designed to send pulses to the system and measured how much it bounces back.

Ridges and valleys bounce back ultrasonic sounds differently. The ultrasound Fingerprint scanners create a 3D map of the finger and match it with the one in the system to authenticate.

types of fingerprint scanners
Credit: Source

Ultrasound scanners are expensive and only come in premium electronic devices like high-end smartphones, smartwatches, etc.

Where else do fingerprint scanners come into play

Apart from smartphones, fingerprints are widely used in laptops. Mostly capacitive fingerprint scanners are used in a laptop.

Optical fingerprint scanners are used in corporations for authentication and getting into offices. Recently fingerprint scanners have been used in Banks to authenticate.

Nowadays many apartments use biometric scanners, which are mostly optical. In fact, new technologies are coming up to incorporate fingerprints in cars as well.

Conclusion: Types Of Fingerprint Scanners

That’s all we have in this article. I hope you liked the article and found some useful information. If you have any queries, please write in the comment section, and I will be happy to answer.

You may also like to read: Evolution of Cell phone batteries
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Rajib Is The Founder And The Key Brain Behind RiansDeal. A NIT 2004 Graduate In Mechanical Engineering With Close To Two Decades Of Experience In Designing Large Appliances And Consumer Electronics Products.


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