Thanks to several emerging technologies and lower average selling prices (ASPs), the fingerprint sensor market is poised to make some big gains in the consumer segment. The fingerprint market is forecast grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 percent from 2016 to 2022 in the consumer segment, reaching $4.7 billion, according to Yole Développement (Yole).
The Fingerprint Sensor Application & Technologies report finds that 23 million fingerprint sensor for smartphones were sold in 2013, increasing to 689 million units in 2016. This translates into a 210 percent CAGR between 2013 and 2016. Yole analysts believe there is a “more reasonable, but still impressive growth” ahead.
Driven by OEMs that require all glass design and waterproofing, Guillaume Girardin, technology and market analyst at Yole said in a statement “this will lead to the emergence of new technologies like CMOS TFT and ultrasonic detection as new ways to detect fingerprint with a high level of integration. These new technologies will clearly reshape the competitive landscape.”
The overall consumer market jumped to 800 million unit shipments in 2016, reaching $2.9 billion. The consumer fingerprint sensor market has been driven by biometry in smartphones, according to Yole. In 2010, revenues were in a “few tens of millions of dollars,” primarily due to adoption in laptops.
“At first, the sensors were a convenience and protection feature for unlocking phones,” said Girardin. “However, they are now shifting into a security feature for online identification and mobile payment in an increasing number of smartphones.”
Girardin expects fingerprint sensing will become a mandatory feature in smartphones over the next five years. However, along with volume demand there will be pressure to lower cost, which has happened over the past three years, he explained.
“Current technologies have now reached maturity, and are threatened by new technologies, which need lower cost to gain momentum,” said Girardin.” And this is the case for ultrasonic detection, for instance.”
Currently, Yole pegs the average cost of a fingerprint sensor at $3 in 2016, down from $5 in 2013. However, pricing is even lower for low-end technologies, and there is still cost pressure in the market.
The report also finds that active capacitive sensing has dominated the market because of its good performance, button form factor, and relatively low cost. But Yole believes “the recent slowdown of the smartphone market is pushing smartphone manufacturers to innovate, focusing on design and use improvements, not performance. By promoting new and very attractive all-glass displays for upcoming flagships, they are pushing fingerprint sensor manufacturers to re-invent their sensors and integration. The integration of the sensor under the glass or other materials limits the sensor performance, which means the choice of the technology is now becoming crucial.”
Threats from other technologies include ultrasonic detection, although it comes with a high cost, and optical detection with the use of thin film transistors (TFTs), which allows for mass production of fingerprint sensors on large panels, reducing the overall production cost, said Yole.