A new patent filing suggests that Samsung is thinking outside the box with its future smartwatches – namely the Galaxy Watch 2. The company may not quite have got its in-screen fingerprint readers ready for the current generation of Galaxy phones, but it clearly envisages a future when people may use the cutting-edge technology on their wrists, too.
There’s not a great deal to the patent – but then it’s not like fingerprint scanners are new, so it doesn’t really need to say a whole lot. Push your finger against the screen, and the watch will authenticate that it is indeed you.
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A more interesting question is why.
For smartphones, this is pretty obvious: you can leave your phone lying around easily, and you don’t want just anybody snooping through your files. Locking it with a fingerprint also makes phones less appealing to thieves.
But smartwatches hold next to no personal data, and they’re strapped to your wrist making them a lot harder to lose, so what gives?
The likely explanation is security for NFC contactless payments, with Samsung trying to bridge the gap between security and convenience. While the Apple Watch lets you pay for things with just a tap of the watch, Samsung’s wearables require a PIN before they pay out.
Tapping out a PIN on a tiny screen isn’t ideal, but a push of a fingertip feels like it may just hit the security sweet spot.
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Of course, this is just a patent, and companies like Samsung have a habit of patenting things and never really acting on them. Still, it’s hard to imagine the company putting this one on the back-burner, assuming the technology works well enough when Samsung is happy that it’s ready for show time.
Not only is in-screen fingerprint scanning new enough to still look cool, but this could put a real security dividing line between Samsung and its rivals in the wearables space.
Do you see a point to fingerprint scanning on a smartwatch? Let us know what you think on Twitter @TrustedReviews.