AUGUST 9--Fujitsu Microelectronics Inc. (San Jose, CA; FMI; www.fmi.fujitsu.com) plans to begin supplying silicon fingerprint sensors to the rapidly expanding worldwide market. Fujitsu Ltd. and FMI plan to develop, manufacture, and market the sensors and authentication software packages for the multifunction IC card and mobile telephone markets, according to Douglas McArthur, director of the FMI new Biometric Sensor Product Group. "Sophisticated authentication systems already use fingerprint sensor technology, and the rapid growth of broadband Internet will create demand for fingerprint sensors in smart cards and mobile phones," McArthur said. "A significant driver of this growth over the next few years will be adoption of personal authentication systems for privacy in e-commerce transactions and in controlling access to electronic databases." The fingerprint sensor market has grown to $16 million worldwide and is expected to grow to almost $800 million by the end of 2004.
Fujitsu and FMI will focus on the development of capacitive fingerprint sensors, which provide highly reliable authentication and high image resolution. Because of the high reliability of their authentication ability, the high resolution of their images, and their compactness, electrostatic capacity models will likely comprise almost 95% of the total market by 2004.
The companies plan to integrate a fingerprint sensor with an LSI chip for multifunction IC cards incorporating Fujitsu's next-generation Ferroelectric RAM (FRAM) nonvolatile memory device. Fujitsu's capacitive fingerprint sensor is a silicon-based semiconductor device that offers stable operation without the use of optics. It is designed to be easy to integrate with various types of control circuits, memory, interfaces, and other technology. Power consumption is very low. The sensor surface can be easily adjusted according to the type of use and to achieve the optimal fingerprint-analysis level based on the choice of semiconductor manufacturing technology. It is built with a hard protective surface that is very damage-resistant.
Authentication software preserves privacy by making it impossible to recreate a fingerprint image from the stored fingerprint data. It offers superior levels of authentication accuracy with technology that compensates image distortions due to finger rotation or shifting. Data stored for one fingerprint takes up just 300 to 600 bytes, easing data management. Fujitsu's authentication software will be bundled in a complete software-development kit.