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Qualcomm announces Touch ID rival

Fresh from a few big mobile announcements at MWC, Qualcomm has announced a new fingerprint sensor technology to compete with Apple's Touch ID.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sense ID is a new technology using ultrasonic waves to create a 3D fingerprint of the user, offering more depth than Touch ID, which uses an area-type capacitive 2D fingerprint.

Ultrasonic waves are already used in biometric facilities and business services, meaning this is the first consumer variation of the technology.

Not only can Qualcomm’s fingerprint sensor understand more from a fingerprint, but it also can be used on glass, sapphire crystal, metal, aluminium and plastic, meaning it could be featured anywhere on the device.

Users fingerprints are even readable if wet or dirty, unlike Touch ID and Samsung’s own fingerprint sensor technology from Synaptics. It is still not clear how reliable Qualcomm’s sensor will be compared to Touch ID.

Apple managed to get a huge lead over the competition in 2012 when it acquired AuthenTec, the best-in-class when it came to fingerprints and other biometric security.

The iPhone 5S was the first smartphone to launch with a decent fingerprint sensor, and the iPhone 6 improves on the accuracy. The Galaxy S6 might have finally caught up with its own technology, but Qualcomm’s looks to trump both.

Qualcomm will import the technology onto the Snapdragon 810 and 425 chips from now on, but it is not confirmed if the processor maker will have any partners on this venture.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.