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Synaptics’ new turnkey USB solution brings biometrics to older laptops

Synaptics, which develops touch-based interfaces for hardware manufacturers, today unveiled its turnkey USB fingerprint solution for third-party manufacturers at the Computex conference in Taiwan.

The turnkey solution allows OEMs and others to integrate fingerprint verification technology into a USB device for use with computers that do not already have a biometric sensor built in. It uses Synaptics’ own FIDO-certified Natural ID fingerprint technology, which is compatible with Windows Hello and Microsoft Passport.

There is an increased demand for more secure password alternatives and biometrics like fingerprints may provide that alternative, especially with the growth of online payments that need quick and easy verification.

However not all devices like laptops have integrated biometrics sensors. This presents an issue as laptop and notebook life cycles tend to be much longer than smartphones, leaving users lacking in some of the latest features. Synaptics believes its new turnkey solution can bridge that gap between old and new laptops.

Synaptics does not appear to be developing the USB devices itself. Rather it will provide the fingerprinting technology that runs the biometric features and will license the solution to USB manufacturers. The company is demoing the technology in action with a USB dongle this week at Computex and expects it to be ready for mass production at the end of 2016.

The turnkey solution will be provided at low cost to equipment manufacturers, according to Godfrey Cheng, vice president of marketing at the Human Interface Systems Division (HISD) at Synaptics, and can be bundled or sold separately.

“Our new USB fingerprint reader expands our lineup of PC peripherals,” Cheng said in a related statement, “enabling our customers to offer consumers myriad options for adding fingerprint sensing to existing notebook and desktop PCs.”

Biometric reader services appear to be growing in popularity. In a recent survey, 52 percent of respondents said they would rather use alternative authentication methods like biometrics for logging in rather than a traditional password.