The importance of biometric authentication is growing these days because passwords, which are easy to remember, are usually not strong enough, whereas complex passwords are hard to remember and enter. While many new mobile devices feature fingerprint reader and some even have an iris scanner, there is a fleet of legacy PCs that do not support any biometric sensors. Synaptics has developed an inexpensive USB dongle, which can add a fingerprint scanner to any PC. The company will offer the device to its customers later this year.

The Synaptics fingerprint USB dongle is based on the company’s Natural ID technology that relies on capacitive touch sensing and SentryPoint security features. The device is small enough to remain unremarkably installed in a USB port, hence, users will not have to carry it separately. Synaptics calls its dongle “Turnkey USB Fingerprint Solution”, but does not disclose the model of its sensor used by the device, or the encryption type supported by the product because there will be several types of dongles with different feature-set.

Synaptics’ latest fingerprint solutions support AES 256-bit encryption, but keep in mind that the scanners and supporting software never store the full image of a fingerprint and support a number of security layers. The hardware and software work together to take an abstract of a fingerprint in a propriety format (using a proprietary alghorithm) and then encrypt this data. Even if the abstract is decrypted, it would be impossible to reconstruct a fingerpritnt. The only security-related information that Synaptics discloses about the dongle is that it is certified by FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) and is compatible with Windows Hello and Microsoft Passport (i.e., Microsoft Windows 10 operating system only).

The USB fingerprint scanner is a finished, ready-to-use device, which Synaptics will offer to partners, who will then be able to either bundle them with their computers or simply resell them to interested parties under their brands. Pricing of the device will depend on exact configurations of the hardware, but should be "well below $50", according to Synaptics.

Synaptics is demonstrating its USB fingerprint scanner at Computex this week, plans to sample the product in Q3 and start to sell them in Q4.

Source: Synaptics

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • ipkh - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    OSX isn't based on linux. It used the BSD base system. The Mach kernel with custom apple stuff. They went out of their way to avoid gpl.
  • satai - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    Anyway we can gues they provide their integrated TouchID sooner or later for their notebooks and keyboards.
  • rahvin - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    His comment was in reference to the fact that OSX is POSIX compliant and that devices that work on Linux are often very easy to get working on OSX.
  • Samus - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    Precisely. Having a BSD-based kernel doesn't really affect driver porting. I've modified Linux drivers to work in OSX using Apple's IOKit. Check it out if you ever can't get a certain device like a barcode scanner or label printer to work (those are the two times I've found it handy.)

    The software is another story, but my guess is the software layer of this thing would be pretty minimal as to try integrating it into the OS as much as possible to improve security.
  • Michael Bay - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link


    The dream is alive, I see.
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    It looks like we've just found someone without enterprise IT experience of any sort.
  • trivor - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    Since when is Linux on the Desktop important to Enterprise and big Enterprise may not go with some off the shelf solution like this. This is for consumers and they will probably have some OS X compatibility but you never know about Linux drivers. In the consumer (not prosumer like most people on the web site) market Linux does not exist.
  • Samus - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    Linux is used in a lot of commercial systems as turnkey solutions from video editing to render farms to various servers. Tons of thin clients in the enterprise sector run Linux. Having worked in Fortune 500 believe me, it's annoying as hell. Over the last few years, OSX has also gained traction (for some reason...yeah, aesthetics) even though half the time I see MacBook's running Windows, and the other half of the time every application in use is web based so the OS is really irrelevant. Citrix is still king in healthcare, too, and although the client end most often runs Windows, the server end is not Windows-based because if it was corporations would simply use Hyper-V. It's important to also point out the majority of VMWare servers are Linux-based.

    Now I get I'm talking about servers here, which this little dongle isn't targeted at, but the initial login/authentication sequence for Thin PC's and Citrix sessions often involves .bash_login and .bash_profile before anything to do with Windows happens. This will require a Linux driver with secure kernel hooks to make this thing relevant.

    But I wont argue with you, the target market for this thing is consumers. It's easy, if not very profitable, and security won't actually play a critical role since what most people will use it for is a password manager (which I suspect Synaptics will either build or parent with a 3rd party on.)

    But there is demand for this thing in enterprise because I can't tell you how much people hate smart cards, USB dongles, and all of the other security products that often still require passwords (two factor authentication)
  • tuxRoller - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    Although I know what you mean, this is also called a USB "dongle".
  • tuxRoller - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    ChromeOS laptops sell very well, and not just to schools.
    Regardless, maintain whatever narrative you wish.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now