Fingerprint specialist Validity snapped up by Synaptics for $255m

Touch behemoth Synaptics invests in biometric authentication.

fingerprints

Capacitive touch specialist Synaptics has agreed to buy biometric authentication firm Validity for $255 million, in a move that could see fingerprint scanners become the default device security method across PCs, tablets and smartphones.

Validity specialises in fingerprint recognition and its flagship product is known as "Natural ID". The California-based firm has lined up deals to include its latest generation biometric sensors in Windows 8.1 products and hopes to makes the transition to smartphones and tablets post-acquisition.

As Synaptics is one of the main suppliers of touch pads and touch screens in laptops, this deal could result in fingerprint scanners being added to portable devices as default. 

Rick Bergman, President and CEO of Synaptics, claimed the acquisition serves as proof the firm is committed to growing by investing in diverse areas.

"Biometrics has long been of interest to Synaptics as it complements our existing touch-based solutions and offers an exciting new way to interact with devices," he said.

Debates over the security and reliability of fingerprint scanners have raged for years. Validity claims fingerprint authentication is better than passwords, facial and voice recognition technology because it verifies user presence and is more convenient and accurate.

Interest in biometric authentication has skyrocketed in recent months as Apple has pushed it as the defacto form of security in its flagship smartphone. Cupertino acquired semiconductor and biometric firm AuthenTec for $356 million in 2012, and used the technology to build a Touch ID sensor into its iPhone 5s.

Apple's Touch ID has debuted to positive reviews but questions remain over the longevity of the fingerprint scanner. 

Reports suggest Samsung wanted to include a fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy Note 3, but this was scrapped after it failed quality assurance tests.

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