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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 20 October, 2014

Your next smartphone could have security features built into the glass

Researchers from Polytechnique Montreal have developed transparent sensors that are embedded in smartphone screens, allowing it to react to its surroundings without the need for wiring.

A laser etching a waveguide into the screen.
A laser etching a waveguide into the screen.

RESEARCHERS HAVE CREATED a new technique which allows them to place transparent sensors within a smartphone screen, allowing it to sense changes in light.

The team from Polytechnique Montreal in Canada and Corning created a way to etch optical waveguides, which directs lightwaves through glass channels, into a smartphone display instead of adding wiring or dedicated sensors.

The team placed the sensors under the surface of Gorilla Glass, which is used by the majority of smartphones and is scratch-resistant, allowing it to track changes in light without using electricity.

According to the researchers, this would provide a smartphone with new functions like providing a way for users to assess their blood sugar levels if they’re diabetic, create a temperature sensor, or provide an authentication security system.

For the latter, smartphone identification could be based on a unique waveguide etched into the device. Shining an infrared light through it would show that the phone isn’t cloned or stolen.

Also, there’s also the option to stack multiple waveguides without obscuring what’s on screen, which would allow multiple functions to be performed while hidden from sight.

While there are no plans to bring this into future products yet, the researchers say the technology could be production-ready within a year, and are looking for companies that could put the sensors into practice.

Read: High Court asks Europe whether Facebook should be investigated over NSA >

Read: Amazon enters the mobile market by launching head-tracking smartphone >

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