F. Scott Moody, the cofounder of AuthenTec, the security company Apple acquired for $356 million last year in order to develop the Touch ID fingerprint scanner introduced in its latest flagship smartphone iPhone 5S, has shown off an early prototype fingerprint scanner during a presentation earlier this week on the origins of what is now Apple’s Touch ID technology (via AppleInsider).
Speaking to the students at North Carolina State University’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, he shared how the technology that eventually became Apple’s Touch ID, made AuthenTec an appealing acquisition for the Cupertino company. Explaining AuthenTec’s technology behind an 8mm x 8mm sensor found beneath the iPhone 5S home button he said, “Every time you use it, it learns more about you. Because it knows, ‘This is Alex,’ every time you use it gets easier and easier.” Moody also revealed the ‘FingerLoc’ during his presentation, an early predecessor to Touch ID, which came in a large box much bigger than an iPhone.
Though the early versions were both buggy and bulky, what drove FingerLoc was essentially “a piece of silicon” that was improved over time, he said. “We convinced people that the signal processing and work could be shrunk into an exceedingly small sensor that we eventually got down to 80 cents,” he said.
Once the early technology and size issues were resolved, the AuthenTec team worked to make the sensor even more embeddable and sleek. Along the way, he said, there was a lot of trial and error and failed experiments, but he and his team learned from each of them as they refined their technology.
When AuthenTec came out with their final product, the company generated interest from a number of customers, including Apple, Motorola and Fujitsu. Apple, in particular, “ate it up,” Moody said, and eventually bought the entire company in 2012 for $356 million.
For Moody, the goal in AuthenTec’s product was to make users’ lives easier, which is exactly what Apple has achieved with the implementation of Touch ID technology in iPhone 5S.